The Importance of Family Dinners 2012 | CASAColumbia

The Importance of Family Dinners VIII

The Importance of Family Dinners VIII

Published: September 2012

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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, QEV Analytics, a national public opinion research firm, conducted a nationally representative telephone-based survey of 1,003 teens, ages 12 to 17 (493 boys, 510 girls).

Results

This report found that teens who had frequent family dinners (5 to 7 per week) were more likely to report having high-quality relationships with their parents.

Compared to teens who had infrequent family dinners (2 or fewer per week), teens who had frequent family dinners were almost 1.5 times likelier to have said they had an excellent relationship with their mother and 1.5 times likelier to have said they had an excellent relationship with their father.

The report also found that compared to teens who said they had an excellent relationship with their fathers, teens that had a less than very good relationship with their father were:

  • Almost 4 times likelier to have used marijuana
  • Twice as likely to have used alcohol
  • 2.5 times as likely to have used tobacco

And compared to teens who said they had an excellent relationship with their mothers, teens that had a less than very good relationship with their mother were:

  • Almost 3 times likelier to have used marijuana
  • 2.5 times as likely to have used alcohol
  • 2.5 times likelier to have used tobacco

Family dinners were strongly linked to teen substance use 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.