Between work, sports and other obligations, many Iowa families only sit down to dinner together a few of times a week. A study finds, the more often kids have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs. Elizabeth Planet is the special project director for the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
"We know that the kids who are doing this infrequently, they’re having fewer than three family dinners a week, compared to the kids who are having dinner with their families almost every night, they’re two-and-a-half times as likely to have used marijuana and tobacco and they’re one-and-a-half times as likely to have been drinking alcohol." Planet says Iowa families are encouraged to have dinner together tonight (Monday) as part of the eighth annual observance of Family Day.
She says it’s turned into a "major national movement" as the president and the governors of all 50 states make declarations on the day every year. "Communities all across the country are celebrating this," Planet says. "We have schools, churches, museums, all kinds of institutions are getting behind Family Day and the message of parental engagement." Planet says Family Day will be observed across Iowa with special events in a host of cities, including: Sioux City, Burlington, Marshalltown, Decorah, Bettendorf, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.
She says events are being held at schools and libraries, brochures are being passed out, and all materials are available for free online at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. For details, visit the website: "www.casafamilyday.org". She says it doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal, as what kids really want during dinnertime is attention. Family meals are the perfect time to talk to your kids and to listen to what’s on their minds.