Young people need a happy hour at the dinner table with their family. Let me explain what i am thinking.
I saw some stuff on TV a few weeks ago that got me thinking. UK has a serious problem with badly behaved, foul-mouthed, binge-drinking youth. [Sounds like they interviewed that church youth group I visited in London]. According to a recent study by the Institute for Public Policy Research called Freedom's Orphans, British youth are worse in most areas of behaviour compared to their counterparts on the continent.
"Measured against German, French and Italian youngsters, British 15-year-olds are drunk more often and involved in more fights, and a higher proportion have had sex". Link
The only countries with worse binge-drinking youth are Ireland [who woudda thunk??] and Denmark. As fate would have it, I will be in Denmark in a few days and will probably rub this statistic in their Danish faces to make me feel a little better about the country I live in.
One of the solutions, according to researchers, is the family meal.
"Some 93% of Italian teenagers eat regularly with their families; in the UK just 64% of 15-year-olds do the same. . . Nick Pearce, director of the IPPR, told the BBC last night the figures pointed to an "increasing disconnect" between children and adults, with young people learning how to behave from each other. He said: "Because they don't have that structured interaction with adults, it damages their life chances. They are not learning how to behave - how to get on in life - as they need to." link
The answer for our family?
Well, we live in the UK and our oldest kid is now 15 [what a co-incidence!!!!] and he runs off from meal times as fast as he can. I think an extended dinner table experience might be a good start. What I am working on right now is a one hour interactive meal hosted each week at our dinner table. I was thinking of calling it "Happy Hour" [although the origin of the term 'happy hour' might call for a different name ] and it should include
- A well thought out menu
- A spectacular and ostentatious dessert.
- Some table games or quizzes that lead to "structured interaction".
- A prayer before the meal (grace) and maybe extended grace to cover the events of the moment.
- A higher level of table manners
- Conversation about issues and relevant stuff.
- No running off until the ENTIRE HOUR has passed.
We are thinking about Tuesday night at 6pm. Any ideas out there? Any veterans? Any other families that want to hook up with us and swap war stories?
IPPR Report (Freedom's Orphans),
[executive summary PDF]
UK Youths 'Among Worst in Europe', BBC
Revolting Youth [YouthNet blog]
UK Youths Top European Bad Behaviour League
Youth Behavior, Guardian, May 2006
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