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.
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.
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.
What does this mean for your church?
If you want to have a healthy youth group, encourage parents to create healthy families. Remember that some parents may not know how to do this and some parents may not have the motivation to do this. But by creating church events that are built around family interaction , your church can simultaneously encourage families to practice being a family while also giving them the opportunity to see other families in action.
- What are some successful or even unsuccessful family events and programs that you have tried?