The Importance of Family Dinners 2010 | CASAColumbia

The Importance of Family Dinners VI

The Importance of Family Dinners VI

Published: September 2010

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Background

CASAColumbia has surveyed thousands of American teens and their parents to identify situations and circumstances that influence the risk of teen substance abuse. What we have learned is that parental engagement in children’s lives is fundamental to keeping children away from tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and that parents have the greatest influence on whether their teens will choose not to use substances. Our surveys have consistently found a relationship between children having frequent dinners with their parents and a decreased risk of their smoking, drinking or using other drugs, and that parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children. Simply put: frequent family dinners make a big difference.

Method

On behalf of CASAColumbia, Knowledge Networks, an international online research organization, conducted a nationally representative Internet-based survey of 1,055 teens, ages 12 to 17 (540 boys, 515 girls), and 456 parents of these teens. In addition, QEV Analytics, a national public opinion research firm, conducted a nationally representative telephone-based survey of 1,000 teens, ages 12 to 17 (511 boys, 489 girls), asking teens questions that we have used to measure trends over time.

Results

According to this report, 60% of teens reported having dinner with their families at least 5 times a week. Compared to teens who had frequent family dinners (5 to 7 per week), those who had infrequent family dinners (2 or fewer per week) were more than twice as likely to say that they expected to try drugs in the future.

This report revealed that 72% of teens thought that eating dinner frequently with their parents was very or fairly important. Compared to teens that had frequent family dinners, those who had infrequent family dinners were:

  • Twice as likely to have used tobacco
  • Almost twice as likely to have used alcohol
  • 1.5 times likelier to have used marijuana

This report also explored how having friends who were risky substance users affected teen substance abuse, and the role the bond between parent and child played in substance abuse prevention.

A Note on the Language
In 2012, CASAColumbia stopped using words like “drug abuse”/“drug abuser” because the terms are imprecise and have negative connotations. Instead, we now distinguish between “addiction” (clinical criteria for the disease) and “risky use” (use of addictive substances in ways that increase the risk of harm but do not meet criteria for addiction). Some reports and other publications published prior to 2012 still contain this language.

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Further information

Read the press release.

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