One of the classic images of traditional family life is when parents and children gather around a table for family dinner.

The Idaho Office of Drug Policy is working to revitalize that image with Idaho Family Dinner Night. The virtual gathering will take place this Thursday, September 26 wherever spoons and forks are available.

“We don’t necessarily just focus on ‘This is why you shouldn’t drink and here are the negative consequences,’ but some of the protective factors and what we know helps prevent underage drinking,” said Shaina Cales, the program planning and development specialist with the agency.

The family focus is a part of a larger campaign put on by the ODP, Be the Parents. The effort focuses on helping parents build high-quality relationships with their children.

According to studies from the Center on Addiction, teens who have frequent dinners with their families tend to have stronger relationships with their parents. In sequence, youth with strong parent relationships are less likely to use alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. So the group seeks to prevent underage misuse and abuse of these substances by way of regular family meals.

“Be the parents is a campaign that helps parents facilitate conversation, it helps with tips in both information and background about underage drinking,” said Cales.

Be the Parents is offering a free printable recipe guide of easy and inexpensive meal ideas and a placemat with activities. More than 17,000 hard copy recipe guides are being distributed through the Idaho Foodbank and other partners.

Be the Parents encourages participating families to share their family dinner photos on social media with the hashtag #IdahoFamilyDinnerNight.

“While we’re celebrating Idaho Family Dinner Night on September 26, any night can be family dinner night,” said ODP Administrator Melinda Smyser.