Family Dinners Also Feed The Teenager’s Soul
TEENS LIKELIER TO HAVE ACCESS TO ALCOHOL, MARIJUANA, PRESCRIPTION DRUGS WHEN FAMILY DINNERS INFREQUENT
NEW YORK, NY, September 22, 2011 – Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are almost four times likelier to use tobacco; more than twice as likely to use alcohol; two-and-a-half times likelier to use marijuana; and almost four times likelier to say they expect to try drugs in the future, according to The Importance of Family Dinners VII, a new report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia).
The CASA Columbia family dinners report revealed that teens who have infrequent family dinners are likelier to say they have ready access to alcohol, prescription drugs (without a prescription in order to get high) or marijuana. Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners, those who have infrequent family dinners are more likely to be able to get alcohol, prescription drugs or marijuana in an hour or less. In contrast, teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to report having no access to such drugs.
The CASA Columbia family dinners report reveals that 58 percent of teens report having dinner with their families at least five times a week, a proportion that has remained consistent over the past decade.
“This year’s study reinforces the importance of frequent family dinners,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Columbia’s Founder and Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. “Ninety percent of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18. Parental engagement in children’s lives is key to raising healthy, drug-free kids and one of the simplest acts of parental engagement is sitting down to the family dinner. Seventeen years of surveying teens has taught us that the more often children have dinner with their families the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.”
Family Relationships Matter
This year’s report examined the quality of family relationships between a child and his or her parents and a child and their sibling(s) and found that teens who report having close family relationships are less likely to smoke, drink or use marijuana.
The family dinners report found that teens having frequent family dinners are more likely to report having excellent relationships with their family members. Compared to teens having infrequent family dinners, teens having frequent family dinners are:
- One-and-a-half times likelier to report having an excellent relationship with their mother;
- More than twice as likely to report having an excellent relationship with their father; and
- Almost twice as likely to report having an excellent relationship with their siblings.
Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners, teens who have infrequent family dinners are almost two-and-a-half times likelier to report that their parents do not regularly make time to check in with them.
Less Time Spent with Parents Related to Increased Risk for Substance Abuse
Teens who have frequent family dinners spend more time with their parents overall, and the report finds a relationship between time spent together and teen substance abuse. Compared to teens who spend 21 hours or more per week with their parents, teens spending seven hours or less are twice as likely to use alcohol, and twice as likely to say they expect to try drugs (including marijuana and prescription drugs without a prescription to get high) in the future.
Teen Perceptions of Sibling Substance Use Related to Teen Substance Abuse Risk
Compared to teens who do not believe their older sibling or siblings have ever tried an illegal drug, teens who believe their sibling(s) have are:
- More than five-and-a-half times likelier to use tobacco;
- Almost three times likelier to use alcohol;
- Six-and-a-half times likelier to use marijuana; and
- More than three times likelier to expect to try drugs (including marijuana and prescription drugs without a prescription to get high) in the future.
Length of the Family Dinner
The report found that families having frequent dinners spend more time around the dinner table.
Five percent of teens say their family dinners usually last less than 15 minutes; 27 percent say 15 to 20 minutes; 41 percent say 21 to 30 minutes; and 28 percent say dinner usually lasts more than 30 minutes.
Teens having infrequent family dinners are four times likelier to say dinner lasts less than 15 minutes compared to those teens having frequent family dinners. Teens having frequent family dinners are twice as likely to say dinner lasts more than 30 minutes, compared to those teens having infrequent family dinners.
“Although having dinner is the easiest way to create routine opportunities for engagement and communication, dinner isn’t the only time parents can engage with their children,” said Kathleen Ferrigno, CASA Columbia’s Director of Marketing who directs the Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™ initiative. “If your schedule can’t be rearranged to include family dinners, engage in other kinds of activities with your children so that you are a reliable, involved, and interested presence in their lives. Remember the magic that happens over family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the communication and conversations around it. Creating opportunities to connect is what’s important.”
Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™
Family Day is a national movement launched by CASA Columbia in 2001 to remind parents that frequent family dinners make a difference. Celebrated on the fourth Monday in September—the 26th in 2011—Family Day promotes parental engagement as a simple and effective way to reduce children’s risk of smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs. What began as a small grassroots initiative has grown to become a nationwide celebration which is expected to once again be proclaimed and supported by the president, all 50 U.S. governors and the mayors and executives of more than 1,000 cities and counties. This year the first spouses in 26 states are serving as Honorary Chairs of Family Day. Stouffer’s and The Coca-Cola Company once again will serve as leading Sponsors. Ten Major League Baseball teams are celebrating and promoting Family Day and the Empire State Building, Niagara Falls, the Wrigley Building in Chicago, the Cira Centre in Philadelphia, the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, and the governor’s residences in Kansas, Nevada and New Jersey are lighting up in red and blue in support of Family Day. For more information about Family Day, visit www.CASAFamilyDay.org or find Family Day on Facebook or Twitter.
The findings in this report come from The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents, released on August 24, 2011. CASA Columbia used Knowledge Networks to do an Internet-based survey administered to a nationally representative sample of 1,037 teens (546 boys, 491 girls), and 528 of their parents, from March 27 to April 27, 2011. Sampling error is +/- 3.1 for teens and +/- 4.4 for parents. As in the past, CASA Columbia used QEV Analytics to do a survey of trend questions at home by telephone which was administered to a nationally representative sample of 1,006 teens (478 boys, 528 girls) from March 29 to May 9, 2011. Sampling error is +/- 3.1.
CASA Columbia is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat abuse of all substances—alcohol, nicotine, illegal, prescription and performance enhancing drugs—in all sectors of society. Founded in 1992 by former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Columbia and its staff of some 60 professionals aim to inform Americans of the economic and social costs of substance abuse and its impact on their lives, find out what works in prevention and treatment of this disease, and remove the stigma of substance abuse and replace shame and despair with hope.
CASA Columbia has issued 76 reports and white papers, published three books, conducted demonstration programs focused on children, families and schools in 36 states and Washington, D.C., held 19 conferences, and has been evaluating drug and alcohol treatment and prevention programs to determine what works best for what individuals. The most recent CASA Columbia book, How to Raise a Drug Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., a practical, user friendly book of advice and information for parents, is widely available in paperback. For more information visit www.casacolumbia.org.