09/17/12 — 4-H calls for family dinner dates

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4-H calls for family dinner dates

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 17, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County 4-H is encouraging families throughout the county to sit down and eat together.

The goal behind Sept. 24's Wayne County Family Day is for parents to help deter their children from using alcohol, drugs or tobacco, 4-H prevention program director Barbara Byers said.

She said studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University have found that teens who eat with their families less than three times a week are almost four times likelier than those who do to use tobacco. They are more than twice as likely to use alcohol and two and a half times likelier to use marijuana.

But teens who eat with their family are more likely to get good grades and have better family relationships.

"Make plans that day to have dinner with your family -- it's simple," Ms. Byers said. "It doesn't matter what you are eating or whether it's homecooked, at a restaurant or eating fast food, most children are more interested in spending time with their parents. It's the best time to talk to your children and find out what's going on in their lives and let them know what's important to you.

"Parents are still the best deterrent to drug use by children. Parents usually say their children never listen to them, but they really do, by and large they really do listen to their parents."

In today's fast-paced world, everyone in the family is running here and there playing sports, having meetings and working a job so it can be hard for families to sit down to a meal together, Ms. Byers said.

"It's all about just sitting down with your children and talking to them," she said. "Something so simple as having dinner as a family can help prevent drug, alcohol and tobacco use in children."

Need some conversation starters for that meal Sept. 24? Here are some from the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia:

* What's the best and worst thing that happened today?

* What's the greatest invention of all time?

* If you could donate $1,000 to any charity, which would you choose and why?

* What is one thing you want to accomplish in your lifetime?

* If you could have a wild animal from anywhere in the world as a pet, which animal would you pick and why?