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Family Dinner & Fun Night Returning

The Newtown Parent Connection, Inc., whose commitment is to “educate, empower, and embrace,” joins with Newtown Prevention Council to invite the community to celebrate family unity on Friday, September 27.

The groups will present the annual Family Dinner & Fun Night from 6 to 8:30 pm that night, at Reed Intermediate School.

The event offers an evening of good food, entertainment and family bonding. It brings busy families together and allows time to unite with friends and neighbors as well.

Newtown Parent Connection contends that spending quality time together builds the infrastructure of the family, helps to provide closeness, and opens critical lines of communication. Busy families often eat in a hurry and have little time to sit down regularly for a meal, often needing to run off to many, varied activities. The distractions of electronics — television, Internet, cell phones and video games — add to the difficulty of getting and keeping the attention of all family members, especially adolescents.

The more frequent family dinners, the better adolescents fare emotionally, says data published in The Journal of Adolescent Health.

“The effect doesn’t plateau after three or four dinners a week,” says co-author Frank Elgar, an associate professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Montréal. “The more dinners a week the better.”

With each additional dinner, researchers found fewer emotional and behavioral problems, greater emotional well being, more trusting and helpful behaviors toward others and higher life satisfaction, regardless of gender, age or family economics. The study was based on a nationally representative sample of 26,069 adolescents ages 11 to 15 in 2010.

Part of the allure of family meals is the ritual, says Sharon Fruh, an associate professor of nursing at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, who co-authored a 2011 study about family dinner research in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners.

“Rituals are very important to everyone — especially children,” says Ms Fruh, a family nurse practitioner. “They help provide security and structure and they give a sense of belonging.”

Newtown Parent Connection’s Family Dinner & Fun Night features a ziti and meatball dinner, ice cream sundaes, DJ entertainment, face painting, and a whole lot of family fun. Tickets are $2 per person (children aged 2 and under are free) and they go quickly.

Reservations are strongly suggested, sooner rather than later, and can be done online at www.newtownparentconnection.org. Tickets can also be purchased at Dr Baum’s office, 23 Church Hill Road.

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