Monday Is Family Dinner Night

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The Department of Children and Families wants you to celebrate family day Monday September 28, 2009 by gathering around the table.

Studies show children in families that regularly eat dinner together are less likely to start smoking , drinking alcohol and using drugs.
Family meals could not only encourage good behaviors but a future favorite pastime.

Alan Abramowitz, the Department of Children and Families State Director of Family Safety says, "The only thing you have to do to prepare is turn the TV off, turn off the MP3 player and turn off your cell phone for the time you're eating and really spend quality time with your family. Your children will appreciate it more than you know."

Tips for getting the dinner conversation going:
-Ask about their day at school or work.
-Have children share their favorite and least favorite part of the day.
-Plan tomorrow's dinner.
-Find a family activity.
-Share your own childhood memories.
-Ask about your child's friends.

*** Family Day Website ****
More than a decade of research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has consistently found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs.

Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM is a national movement launched by CASA in 2001 to remind 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 prevent substance abuse in kids.

Family Day began as a grassroots initiative and has grown to become a nationwide celebration. In fact, in 2008 President Bush, all 50 Governors and more than 800 Mayors and County Executives proclaimed and supported Family Day!

When talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol:

Acknowledge that marijuana, alcohol and tobacco are substances that are out there and that many people use them. Explain that nicotine and prescription drugs are also "abuse-able" and should be treated the same as alcohol and illegal drugs.

Start talking with your kids at an early age and take time to explain things to your child in basic terms that are easily understandable. Make your child comfortable talking to you about “difficult” topics such as drugs, alcohol and smoking.

Listen carefully to your child. Educate yourself so you can answer his or her questions. As children get older, their questions get more difficult, so you need to be prepared.

Peer pressure may play a pivotal role in a child’s decision to use drugs, drink or smoke. However, encourage your child to be their own person and make their own decisions.

Tell your child the truth—that drugs, alcohol and tobacco may make them feel good for a while (by activating brain chemicals). Unfortunately, that feeling is brief and no one can know the true potency or lifetime effects of these substances.

Try to impress on your child the long-term consequences drinking, smoking or using drugs may have on something they enjoy doing, such as sports, math or writing.

Point out that adolescents are in a period of life during which they need their brains to operate at full efficiency. These substances can impair brain function.

Make the point that repeated “chemical activation” will eventually cause people to crave that chemical and want to keep using it even if it hurts them.

Explain that these substances may dull a painful part of their lives for a brief period, but it will never change or help the underlying situation.

Write a family “contract” established to make your opinions on drug use, drinking and smoking clear. Be consistent with family rules.
Be a model of healthy behavior for your child.

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