IT’S DINNER TIME: DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE?

Today is National Family Day, in case you didn’t know. Americans are apparently so busy working multiple jobs to make ends meet, or shuttling our kids to soccer practice, or whatever, that we have to declare the fourth Monday of September “Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™.”

Sponsored by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Family Day was created in 2001 as a “national effort to promote family dinners as an effective way to reduce substance abuse among children and teens. “

Forget about gateway drugs; a steady diet of frozen pizzas and Chinese take-out eaten alone in front of the tv is all it takes to drive some kids to abuse drugs and alcohol. There’s plenty of research to show that children who eat dinner with their parents on a regular basis do better in school and are less likely to drink, smoke, or do drugs.

Too bad, then, that the family supper “is one more quaint artifact, like vinyl records or manual typewriters,” according to Miriam Weinstein, author of “The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier, and Happier.”

CASA’S website proclaims that “Family Day is not just for families. It is a day for all to celebrate, including businesses, unions, religious organizations and community groups. The symbolic act of regular family meals should be promoted and celebrated inside and outside the home throughout the year.”

I’m all in favor of encouraging families to gather round the dinner table to share a meal and spend some quality time together. But isn’t it a pathetic indictment of our current way of life that we have to declare one day a year National Eat With Your Family Day?