Family Dinners Worth It

Do you know that 65 percent of teenagers and 75 percent of parents say they would be willing to give up a weeknight activity if it meant they could have dinner with their family?

Do you know that those teenager who have fewer than three family dinners per week are one and a half times likelier to report getting mostly C’s or lower grades in school; and teens who report these grades are likelier to smoke, drink and use drugs?

Start cooking! Because the September 2009 report about The Importance of Family Dinners (a downloadable PDF) was just released from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse… and it’s yet another credible source encouraging parents to simply spend time with their kids!

Every Sunday that I’m in town, I do a 5 minute “Youth Culture Window” at my church in our parent fellowship group (made up of 50 to 100 parents). It’s easy, because I usually just steal from our web site’s Youth Culture Window article for that week. 🙂  (a great source to steal from!)

Funny, it seems like my closing always ends the same. Regardless of the subject, I always wrap it up by saying something like this: “So keep having conversations with your kids.” or “Keep dialoguing with your kids about this.” or “This is a great discussion you can have with your kids.”

Each year research sprouts more good news about the benefits of parents devoting time talking with their kids. As a matter of fact, in this week’s Youth Culture Window article, linked in the big magnifying glass on the front page of our website, David brings us some more encouraging news for parents from his personal interview with Jessica Sheets, the spokesperson of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

The message is clear. “Spend time with your kids.” We’ve seen articles that talk about what happens when parents aren’t involved in their kids’ lives, and then we’ve seen encouraging articles that talk about the huge impact parents do make, and that kids are happiest spending time with family.

So spread the word. Family dinners are worth the effort.

For those of you that are intrigued by all this research- dive into that Family Dinners Report, you’ll find all kinds of interesting data- including how many kids who have family dinners are more likely to attend religious services weekly, and how many of those kids will try cigarettes, marijuana and alcohol compared to those who don’t attend services (page 14 of the report). Interesting stuff!

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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