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E.Payne Joins The Family Day National Initiative

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As a child, my parents and I always had dinner together. From my pre-school days of enjoying everything that was put in front of me, to my middle school and adolescent years of hating everything that was put in front of me, to coming home on breaks from college and knowing that dinner time was family time --- no matter the circumstances --- we ate dinner as a family. Whether I liked it or not (and 99.85% of the time I liked it) it was a time for us to come together to talk, discuss current events, share stories and get reprimanded (the latter refers to me).

As a grown man, married and the father of two kids it went without saying that we would eat dinner as a family. It was simply automatic.
And we do eat dinner as a family five to six times a week. Five of those times are at the dining room table. A dining room is meant to be used frequently by the members of a family, not just dusted off for special occasions. But a kitchen table or trays in a circle will suffice if that's your situation. As long as you are together.

Eat Dinner With Your Children
If it were up to me my family would eat at the table seven days a week, but there are times when our individual schedules don't mesh. And then there are others when I am overruled for the sake of a DVD by these people that live with me. But even if we pull out the trays and pile around the television, we are doing it together. As the father of a teenage male, dinner time is an opportunity for me to extract information from him, talk to him and sometimes at him about his life and education and to spend quality time with my firstborn. Now that he's a teen he doesn't talk as much as he used to but because he sets the table each night without having to be asked I know he gets it. As the father of a little girl dinner time is an opportunity to show her how it's done. My wife and I get to spend time together appreciating our most valuable assets, each other and the children we've produced.

I believe family dinners are so important that I’ve teamed up with The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia*) in promoting Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™. Family Day is a national initiative that CASA Columbia launched in 2001 to remind parents that Dinner Makes A Difference! Family Day will be celebrated on Monday, September 26th this year. The President, all 50 Governors and the Mayors and Executives of more than 1,000 cities and counties proclaim and support Family Day. Family Day is celebrated nationwide in homes, schools and community centers by non-profit groups, substance abuse prevention coalitions and families.

As a supporter of the Family Day initiative, I’ll be sharing ideas on how you can make dinner time more interactive and how to get both parents and kids more engaged. Then, on Monday, September 26th, we can all celebrate Family Day by eating together with our families and remembering that every time you have a meal together, you are being a Family Day STAR!

Important Facts About Family Dinners:
  • More than a decade of CASA Columbia research has consistently found that the more often children eat dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use drugs.
  • Teens who have infrequent family dinners are more than twice as likely to say that they expect to try drugs in the future. –The Importance of Family Dinners VI report
  • Teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco or marijuana; more than one and a half times likelier to use alcohol; and twice as likely to expect to try drugs in the future. –The Importance of Family Dinners VI report
  • Nearly three-quarters of teens think eating dinner with their parents is important. Most teens (60 percent) who have dinner with their parents fewer than five nights a week wish they could eat dinner with their parents more often. –The Importance of Family Dinners VI report

Become A Family Day STAR
Stay tuned in the coming days for more Family Day updates from me around meal ideas, conversation starters at the table and ways to engage your kids, your teens in particular about staying away from drugs and alcohol, all while promoting healthy eating!

Today I'm asking you to join this super-unbelievably important initiative with me by pledging to become a Family Day STAR! Follow this Family Day STAR link and pledge. Then please let me know here in the comments section of this post. I'd love to hear from you!

*The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University is neither affiliated with, nor sponsored by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (also known as “CASA Columbia”) or any of its member organizations, or any other organizations with the name of “CASA”.

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