Time Well Spent

Posted: October 14, 2008 in Daily Blog

I came across this article in a blog yesterday, I couldn’t help not sharing it…

Family Interaction Reduces Teen Sex and Substance Use
from churchrelevance.com by Kent Shaffer

The August 2008 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health shares two insightful research studies that explore how family interaction reduce teen sex and teen drug use.

Study #1: Using Sibling Differences to Estimate Effects of Parenting on Adolescent Sexual Risk Behaviors

The first study conducted by Rebekah Levine Coley of Boston College discovered that teens who regularly took part in family activities had sex less frequently, less unprotected sex, and fewer sex partners. These family activities include eating together, having fun, and doing something religious. At the same time, negative and hostile parenting increases risky sexual behavior among teens.

Negative and psychologically controlling parenting behaviors may inhibit adolescents’ development of self-efficacy and identity, interfere with mature and responsible decision making skills, and affect the development of healthy relationships, in turn leading to an elevated likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors.

Study #2: Family Meals and Substance Use: Is There a Long-Term Protective Association?

The second study conducted by Marla Eisenberg of the University of Minnesota discovered that eating family meals together significantly reduces the odds of teen girls smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. Among teen boys, no influence was found between family meals and substance use.

Middle-school female adolescents reporting at least five family meals per week were significantly less likely to report regular use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana during their high school years than their counterparts whose families did not have regular meals.

I have been a big advocate of family time over the years. I love the studies that show that a family that eats together profits through emotional health. Obviously there are exceptions, but if this study doesn’t encourage you to spend time with your kids, what will? I have seen in our kids a desire to share more things with us than their peers share with their parents, and I love that! I am taking no credit for how they are turning out, but just the fact in light of recent events that they are willing to share some of the tough stuff with us they handle on a day to day basis is so rewarding! Helping them navigate the ups and downs of teenage and pre-teen life is incredibly rewarding for me as a parent. It isn’t easy as we put our faith and values into current life situations, but it has incredible returns! I know that helping our kids deal with the issues they face everyday is making them stronger. I am glad that we have limited our evening activities to foster an environment of sharing, so when these issues come up they feel like they have a voice and a place to talk. Intentionally creating opportunities for your kids to have a voice is invaluable, and it is great to see research reflect the importance of spending time with kids.


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