Many people relate families eating together to their own childhood memories and even to those families we watched on television who did just that. They sat around the dinner table and enjoyed each other’s company, got caught up with the day’s happenings and ate good food. For too many people today, this is a mere memory.
As a society, we have moved away from down time and moved into warp speeding everything we do. There’s too much to do and we have to keep up the pace so we can accomplish all of these things we need to do.
Moving steadily into South Florida over the past 5 years is Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM , a national health promotion initiative (www.casafamilyday.org). It is a simple movement with a profound probability for wonderful long-term consequences. Simply stated with the backing of over a decade of research, eating dinner together as a family at least 4-5 times per week, is one of the most proven ways to protect our children from alcohol and other drug use and to keep them healthy. The 2011 research actually states that kids who eat dinner with their parents regularly (about 5 times per week) make better choices about whether or not to use alcohol or other drugs.
Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM is a national movement launched by CASA housed at Columbia University in New York since 2001 that reminds parents that frequent family Dinners Make A Difference! While there are no silver bullets – substance abuse can strike any family regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age or gender – the parental engagement fostered at the dinner table can be a simple, effective tool to help parents prevent substance abuse in kids.
This year Family Day falls on Monday, September 24th. There will be Family Day activities held throughout South Florida. Nearly 20 different community events will be held in Broward County alone. The organizers of these activities have one thing in mind, encouraging parents to make the commitment to going back to the dinner table, having more family mealtimes and engaging in dialogue with their kids. Many teens tell us and researchers all across the country, that they want to spend more time with their families.
Raising healthy and drug-free children is challenging and can certainly be overwhelming at times, but it is not impossible. In fact, more kids DO NOT use drugs than those who do. It’s just that the ones who are engaged in these unhealthy lifestyle behaviors get more attention, and make more “noise.” Teaching our kids how to stay strong, be resilient and avoid alcohol and other drugs for as long as possible begins at home. And, the dinner table is a great place to have these conversations.
For more information about Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM please visit www.drugfreebroward.org.
As of September, the Commission will post the dates of the hosted Family Day events on the website at www.drugfreebroward.org