Recently I posted about the trend over the past generation or so, for parents to foist their kids into organized sports at earlier and earlier ages. One reason for this is that parents really don’t have the time, or in some cases the inclination, to spend any significant time with their kids. They would rather work longer hours away from their family, making enough money to farm out the job of teaching their kid how to hit a curve ball. (If you know a better definition of “ironic”, let me know.)
The AC Nielsen is a company that tracks statistics. They research, ask a lot of questions, track a lot of data, and then they release it to the news so that hopefully, it will do some good in the world. Most of their data goes unnoticed. For instance, here’s a little stat they recently compiled from their research that probably got past you.
I’ll let that sink in. Please, do not miss the part where it says… “per WEEK”.
I’ll do the math for you: that comes to 5.5 minutes of conversation per day. Now I’m a realist with five kids. I understand that there are days that go by where no one in the family is going in the same direction. I’m not talking about the weird days. I’m talking about averages here. The statistics tell us that kids are essentially on their own.
One great way to up those minutes of conversation with your kids is to actually have dinner with them.
Another study by another group, this one the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, (CASA), had the following things to say about the impact of eating dinner as a family:
Kids who eat with their family less than 3 times per week are twice as likely to use tobacco and alcohol and 1.5 times more likely to use marijuana. They are also twice as likely to receive grades of “C” or lower. They also found strong correlations to higher obesity, eating disorder and depression rates. (These stats are compared to those who eat dinner with their family 5-7 times per week.)
Of course, there are a million reasons not to do this. Lots of things get in the way of a family actually sitting down with each other once a day for a meal. I suggest that you keep a list.
Your kids will want to read it someday.