According to a newly released survey that compiled answers from 1,063 teens and 550 parents, parents quite clearly do not understand their teenagers! In fact, while parents believe eating as a family is sheer torture for their kids, 84% of teens admit they actually appreciate this time spent with family!
The survey also reaffirms what others had already demonstrated: eating as a family five times per week or more, is good for teenagers’ health. In fact, the more often teens eat with their family, the less susceptible they are to smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs, compared to their peers who have family meals twice a week or less.
According to a report by Unicef on the health and welfare of children living in industrialized countries published earlier this year, a little over 70% of 15-year-old Canadians eat with their parents a few times a week. Although this number is not bad, it is certainly not great. It is better than the United States, where only 65% of teens eat with their family regularly. However, it seriously lags behind France, Italy and Russia, where more than 90% of teens report having family meals regularly.
The survey published four years ago was commissioned by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University in New York. It once again demonstrates that there is an actual connection between the probability of drug use and the frequency of family dinners. Hence, teenagers who eat with their family twice a week or less are 3.5 times more susceptible of abusing prescription medication, 3 times more susceptible of smoking marijuana, and 1.5 times more at risk of drinking alcohol. In addition, the survey showed that teens who eat with their family regularly also got better grades, with 64% of them reporting mostly As and Bs, compared to 49% for those who do not. Those numbers are clearly worth considering!
You have the impression that your teenagers are growing up too quickly and that their lives are running through your fingers? Take the time to eat with them regularly, start a new ritual: family dinners! The meal your family chooses is unimportant, as any meal will do the trick! However, dinner is often more propitious to conversations because people are not usually as busy, and family members find discussing their day less stressful. Investing time in your children? It is free and very beneficial. Sharing a meal together…it’s a good thing!