Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dinner Together Can Prevent Deaths

Kids die. Kids shouldn’t die before their parents. A fair number of teens die because of poor choices and taking chances. What can we, as parents, do to prevent risk taking, poor choices, and taking chances and keep our kids alive? Lecturing often results in a “deaf ear”. Telling them the horrors that will result from their bad choices and trying to scare them into ‘good” behavior often doesn’t work. What can you do? What is effective?

Amazingly there is something that is fairly easy to do, that has been shown to have a very significant impact on a broad range of behaviors and excellent positive effects, generally, on teens (and all kids). And best of all it is pretty easy to do and centers around an activity that you want to do anyway, eating dinner.

A study has been done (and replicated) by the National Center on Alcohol and Substance Abuse at Columbia University demonstrating the benefits of having family dinners together 5 or more times a week.

Teens in those families that ate together that often had lower rates of smoking, drinking, and drug use. They had better grades, were more emotionally content and had more positive peer relationships. They had healthier eating habits. They had lower risk of suicidal thoughts. They were more likely to have friends that their parents approved of. Wow, almost everything one could hope for short of whiter teeth and fresh breath (sorry, just a bit of a joke).

You can’t buy a better treatment and preventative measure for teen health and well-being, as well as death preventative. Granted it is not a “silver bullet”, substance use/abuse and risk taking can still happen, but it is much less likely with this “dinner treatment”.

Having frequent and regular dinners with your kids is the simplest and most effective way to positively affect your teen’s life (and making sure they are around to live it).

Awesome, all the more reason to keep it up despite the resistance I sometimes get from my kids. Try it, no, no, DO IT.

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