September 24, 2012 - First Lady Mary Pat Christie Marks 11TH Annual Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children(TM)
Trenton, NJ – Recognizing the importance of how family dinners cultivate special bonds between parents and their children, First Lady Mary Pat Christie announced today that Drumthwacket will be illuminated in red and blue on Monday, September 24, to celebrate the eleventh annual Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University created Family Day in 2001 after its research consistently found that the more often children eat dinner with their families the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use drugs. These children are also more likely to earn better grades in school, to say they have an excellent relationship with their parents and are less likely to have friends who smoke, drink or use drugs.
“One of my favorite moments of the day is in the evening when the Governor and I settle down at the dinner table with our four children,” said First Lady Mary Pat Christie, Honorary Chair of Family Day in New Jersey. “While our schedules are quite busy, it’s important for us to make family dinner a priority each week. We’ve found that this special time is an effective way to bond with our children and catch up from the hustle and bustle of life.”
Substance abuse can strike any family regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age or gender. In fact, each day more than 13,000 children and teens take their first drink. On average, teenagers who use alcohol, tobacco and marijuana begin using them between 12 and 14 years of age, with some of the highest risk kids starting to use even earlier. CASA believes the parental engagement fostered at the dinner table can be a simple, effective tool to help parents prevent substance abuse in children.
CASA offers these tips about talking to your children about substance abuse:
- 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 tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
- 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. However, encourage your child to be their own person and make their own decisions.
- Tell your child the truth—that drugs, including 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 other drugs may have on something they enjoy doing, such as sports, math or writing.
To learn more about Family Day, please visit www.CASAFamilyDay.org or find Family Day on Facebook and Twitter.