CASAColumbia has surveyed thousands of American teens and their parents to identify situations and circumstances that influence the risk of teen substance use. What we have learned is that parental engagement in children’s lives is fundamental to keeping children away from tobacco, alcohol and other substances, and that parents have the greatest influence on whether their teens will choose not to use substances. Our surveys have consistently found a relationship between children having frequent dinners with their parents and a decreased risk of their smoking, drinking or using other substances, and that parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, substance-free children. Simply put: frequent family dinners make a big difference.
This report found that teens who had frequent family dinners (5 to 7 per week) were more likely to report having high-quality relationships with their parents.
Compared to teens who had infrequent family dinners (2 or fewer per week), teens who had frequent family dinners were almost 1.5 times likelier to have said they had an excellent relationship with their mother and 1.5 times likelier to have said they had an excellent relationship with their father.
The report also found that compared to teens who said they had an excellent relationship with their fathers, teens that had a less than very good relationship with their father were:
- Almost 4 times likelier to have used marijuana
- Twice as likely to have used alcohol
- 2.5 times as likely to have used tobacco
Compared to teens who said they had an excellent relationship with their mothers, teens that had a less than very good relationship with their mother were:
- Almost 3 times likelier to have used marijuana
- 2.5 times as likely to have used alcohol
- 2.5 times likelier to have used tobacco
On behalf of CASAColumbia, QEV Analytics, a national public opinion research firm, conducted a nationally representative, telephone-based survey of 1,003 teens, ages 12 to 17 (493 boys, 510 girls).