Thursday, October 7, 2010

Strength of Family Ties: Results from CASA Family Dinner Study 2010

Teens want to eat dinner with their families and family dinner strengthens ties among parents and teens, according to CASA's most recent study. All this makes sense: family dinner gives us the time and space as parents to connect to our kids and listen to them. It helps to have family time be something teens can "count on" rather than a random event. As much as teens want "their own lives," they both need and want to be connected. Family dinner is a way to do it, and it's never too late to start!

Here are some key findings from CASA's national adolescent survey.
  • 60% of teens have dinner with their family 5  or more times a week. This statistic has been steady from most of the past decade.
  • 75% of teens talk to their parents at dinner about their lives.
  • 80% of parents agree that dinner helps them learn more about their teen's life.
  • Teens who frequently have dinner with their families (5 or more nights a week) are twice as likely to talk to their parents about their lives than are teens who infrequently have dinner with family (2 or less nights a week).
  • Most teens (60%) want to have dinner with their families more often.
  • 72% of teens think family dinner is important.
  • Kids who frequently have dinner with their parents are less likely to use drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol. Of these kids, 70% reply that one reason is that they know their parents would be upset.

Family Dinner Contributes to the Strength of Family Ties. This year CASA added a new dimension to the survey to measure the strength of family ties and how that was related to illegal drug and alcohol use among teens. Stronger family ties resulted in less likelihood to use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. Family dinner contributed to stronger family ties independently and by influencing two other component of the scale, as noted below.
  • Teens who had frequent family dinners were 3x more likely to report an excellent relationship with both mom and dad. 
  • Teens who had frequent family dinners were 2x more likely to report that their parents were good at listening to them.

Source: CASA, The Importance of Family Dinners, IV, September 2010. Full Report available by pdf.


  1. it would be nice also if they could measure the impact on younger siblings ... the chance to be together and really see that older teen model the behaviors and relationships makes a big impression...

  2. I agree. Some research gets funded because they are looking for ways to reduce risky behaviors in teens. But of course starting earlier helps, and the family dynamics of older kids mentoring younger ones would be an interesting angle.


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