September 24th – Family Day!

By Mary Nicholson

September 24, 2012 is not only my father-in-law’s 81st birthday, it’s also Family Day.  What’s that?  Family Day is a national initiative to remind parents that what your kids really want at the dinner table is YOU!  Research by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia™) has consistently found that the more often kids eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs. Not only that, but another benefit is that most people eat more balanced meals and a wider variety of foods when they eat with family or friends.  Eating a wider variety of foods helps ensure a better intake of nutrients.

I was very fortunate growing up in a time where Mom was at home, and you could bet money that at 6:00 pm, dinner was served, and you’d better be there.  That didn’t keep any of my siblings or me from participating in a variety of activities.  My parents also had evening activities, but we were able to keep dinner time 95% of the time, even if it was occasionally rushed.  I don’t think that’s so easily done today.  When my children were younger, it surprised me when some of their friends didn’t seem to have any particular dinner times.  They just hung around, and didn’t seem particularly interested in joining us for dinner.  As a result, I did add a little more flexibility to our schedules, because I felt it was more important for us to eat together as much as we could, rather than fix individual meals for everyone who had plans around suppertime.  There were times when we had to send a kid off with money for a fast-food restaurant, but we tried to keep those to a minimum.  That gets expensive!

So if dinner together is not part of your routine, now’s a great time to start!  It doesn’t have to be a fancy meal, or at any particular time.  Many families have breakfast as their together meal for the day.  Breakfast for dinner is a weekly occurrence at my house.  Everyone likes it, and everyone can help, whether it’s breaking the eggs, setting the table, chopping mushrooms, or pouring the milk.  I’m also a fan of the rotisserie chickens at the grocery store.  I can pick one up on my way home, add a salad and a vegetable or two, and voila – it’s dinner!

For more information, recipes, activities, and resources about Family Day, check out the CASA Columbia website.  And don’t forget the milk!

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