By Susan Kurlander, Health Educator
The kids are back in school and families are trying to get a handle on the new schedule. With more to cram into each day, eating dinner as a family may fall by the wayside. “Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children,” organized by CASA, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, is an important reminder of a critical reason for making time to eat dinner with your kids. Through national observance of this day on September 27, CASA hopes to raise awareness among parents that they possess powerful tools to keep their children substance-free.
According to CASA, the importance of eating dinner with your kids cannot be overestimated. A recent CASA survey concluded that “the average risky score of teens having dinner with their family fewer than three nights in a typical week is 75% greater than that of teens having dinner as a family five to seven nights a week.”
Research has consistently found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use other drugs. They are also likelier to earn good grades in school and maintain good communication with their parents.
“The magic of the family dinner comes not from the food on the plate but from who’s at the table and what’s happening there. The emotional and social benefits that come from family dinners are priceless,” says Elizabeth Planet, CASA’s Vice President. Eating dinner as a family “creates routine opportunities for parental engagement and communication, two keys to raising drug-free children.”