Good solid family with open lines of communication and strong interaction is instrumental in keeping kids off of drugs and alcohol. If you can keep them off when they are younger, it will certainly help their future.
How many times a week does your family eat dinner together?
The answer to this question may be directly related to the risk of your teen’s drinking, smoking, or using other drugs.
Research has shown that compared to teens having frequent family dinners (5-7per week) those having infrequent family dinners (fewer than 3 such meals) are:
- More than two times as likely to use alcohol
- More than four times as likely to use tobacco
- Two and a half times as likely to use marijuana
- Nearly four times as likely to anticipate trying drugs at some point in the future
- Approximately four of every 10 teens interviewed reported having infrequent family meals. Given the current economy and necessity for parents to work long hours, we can only expect this figure to increase.
What makes family dinners so important is the chance to interact, share humor and sadness, achieve recognition for accomplishments, and find unconditional support when efforts fail. Basically, human bonding is the key to health and happiness.
The experience of having a predictable home base becomes increasingly valuable to teens as they move into the adult world and seek their place in it. It is especially important during the “bravado” stage of adolescence, when our kids become obnoxiously uncommunicative and dismiss family values as outdated.
Our goal as parents is to help our child make it to age 21 without abusing alcohol, using illegal drugs, and/or smoking tobacco. When this happens, the odds of his or her beginning to abuse these substances are small to nonexistent.
Finally, increased parent/child time decreases the amount of time a teen is likely to spend with peers who use illegal drugs, prescription drugs without a prescription, and/or over-the-counter medication to get high. Teens spending seven hours or less per week with their parents are approximately twice as likely to have at least one such drug-using friend as are those spending 21 or more hours with parents.
Family and human relationships are the essence of life. The only way to cultivate true relationships is in an alcohol and drug-free environment. You and your teens can learn more through alcohol awareness classes.