A Simple Key to Keeping Your Kids Safe

Like many of you, I found it a struggle to have regular family meals during my kids’ teen years.  There were softball games to attend, piano lessons, Dad’s out of town business trips, and so on.  It was so much easier to just call home and tell the family “you’re on your own; pull out the leftovers.”  One thing that we DID do, though, was have a regular (4 or 5 times a week) “family time” later at night.  I’m glad that we had those regular times to engage with our children.  It turns out that regular family time (and for most families, that’s a family meal together) is STRONGLY connected with better outcomes for teens.  An important study that just came out points out that “a child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so….Our surveys have consistently found that the more often children have dinners with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs, and that parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help.”  Did you get that?  Potent, according to Dictionary.com, means powerful, mighty, having or exercising great power or influence.  If you think it’s the gourmet meal that matters, it’s not.  If all you can manage is opening a can of chili, throwing on some grated cheese, and slicing up a few apples, that’s OK!  The point is to have time to interact, and the study points out that  “Three in four teens report that they talk to their parents about what’s going on in their lives during dinner.”