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Archive for Monday, September 25, 2006

Family day’ every day

Event encourages families to eat together

September 25, 2006

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The Wethington family members gather for a meal, something they make a regular effort to do despite everyone's hectic schedules and a remodeling project in their kitchen. Gathered, clockwise from left, are Dan and Kristin Wethington and their daughters Leah, 7, Lindsey, 9, and Lauren, 12. The kitchen remodeling project is visible through the opening at left. A nationwide event today called Family Day is urging families to sit down and eat together, based on studies that link eating family dinners with decreased risk of substance abuse for children.

The Wethington family members gather for a meal, something they make a regular effort to do despite everyone's hectic schedules and a remodeling project in their kitchen. Gathered, clockwise from left, are Dan and Kristin Wethington and their daughters Leah, 7, Lindsey, 9, and Lauren, 12. The kitchen remodeling project is visible through the opening at left. A nationwide event today called Family Day is urging families to sit down and eat together, based on studies that link eating family dinners with decreased risk of substance abuse for children.

In the Wethington household, the activity of sitting down to dinner faces stiff competition.

"We have three soccer players, we have three girls taking piano," Kristin Wethington said. "We have a Brownie. One of them takes dance. One plays tennis for West (Junior High School). They're all active in church, and that's Wednesday night."

Yet against the odds, Kristin and her husband, Dan, an engineer, say they're able to sit down together with their kids almost every night for some semblance of a meal - even if it's just dessert.

A nationwide event planned for today aims to promote that kind of dedication to family meals as a way to raise healthier children and reduce the risk of substance abuse.

The event, titled Family Day, is based on recent research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. It found that children who ate dinner five to seven times per week with their families were far less likely to smoke, drink and use drugs than those who ate zero to two dinners per week with their families.

For example, children in the first category were about three times less likely to use marijuana.

"It's all about that communication - letting them know, 'I care about you and I want to know what you're doing,'" said Jen Brinkerhoff, director of the Regional Prevention Center of East Central Kansas, which is promoting the event locally. "It's a simple thing that we just need to be reminded of."

Lauren Wethington, 12, left, and her mother Kristin, ready for a family dinner in the midst of a remodeling project in their kitchen.

Lauren Wethington, 12, left, and her mother Kristin, ready for a family dinner in the midst of a remodeling project in their kitchen.

She suggested that families who don't regularly eat together should start small, with perhaps one night per week. Don't pick up the phone, and turn off the TV during the meal, she said.

If the Wethingtons miss dinner together - and there are plenty of "eat-a-sandwich-in-the-car" nights - they make it a point to have popcorn or dessert together by night's end, even if they're all in pajamas. They have a family tradition of going around the table and asking each person's most interesting event of that day.

Seth and Kari Heide, who direct the youth ministry at Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church, make it a point to eat dinner seven nights per week with their three children, all under age 6.

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"It's just part of what we do," Kari Heide said. "It's less expensive. Our kids are young, and that's what they need."

Comments

Moira 7 years, 6 months ago

We sit down to dinner together at least four times a week. We insist our daughter turn off the electronics and play Scrabble or another game of choice. Reading together gives us that special family time and does wonders for spelling, vocabulary and comprehension!

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Confrontation 7 years, 6 months ago

If the kids eat with their parents, then when will they find time for texting, messaging, video games, and contacting sexual predators online? Geesh!!! Don't kids have any freedoms?

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Woodduck_5363 7 years, 6 months ago

We as a family at Second Christian Church at 1245 Conn. have Friends and Family dinner every fourth Sunday where we bring a dish and sit down and eat with whom ever wants to attend.

This is our way of keeping the family together and sit down for dinner, and share with everyone

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