Is the art of conversation lost when it comes to your family?
One of the best ways to connect with your family is around the table. You should try to have a great dinner together at least once a week.
This is sometimes difficult to do in our culture today. Everyone is so busy! Kids are mad when they can’t be texting. Then when you get to the table you say, “What did you today?” The answer from your child is, “Nothing”.
There was a time when my teenagers stopped wanting to sit at the table with us. My husband and I came up with a plan to get our children to stay at the table so we could reconnect as a family. Now, we work very hard at not being busy so that we have to talk together.
Here are some suggestions to make everyone talk:
1. Have a meal that appeals to everyone. You know how much you enjoy a salad bar? Trying having a different type of bar. In my post Zen Meals, you can read about other “bars” like a taco bar or pizza bar. Ask ahead of time what meal your children would like and include them in the planning.
Maybe a really good breakfast will bring everyone to the table.
2. Come to the table ready to make it a positive meal!
• Don’t Nag.
• Don’t say, “You’re wrong”. If you have to chose between being right and kind, be kind.
• Stay away from subjects that start arguments like: class grades or room cleaning.
• Don’t think about something else – really listen and look into the speaker’s eyes. Mirror the speaker’s body language.
• No TVs, computer or phones – let the answering machine get the phone; that’s what they’re for!
• Leave your picky eater alone at your family meal! Make dinner pleasant and model your own good eating habits.
• Yes, manners are important but don’t constantly remind them during your dinner. Maybe mention the elbows on the table later.
3. Start a conversation. Then be an active listener. Go around the table and:
• Ask questions and not just “How was your day?” but something specific like, “Who did you sit next to at lunch?”
• Say your high and low for the day.
• Have a riddle to solve.
• Have a joke that makes all the children laugh.
• Talk about a different place from around the world.
4. Ask your kids to introduce you to some music they like. We actually do this almost every day at breakfast. At one point, when my two oldest were teens, this was the only topic that didn’t cause an argument to start! Music makes everyone happy.
5. Our children actually have something to teach us! Ask them about a subject that your child is an expert on. (Everyone thinks they’re an expert on something.) My oldest knew everything about the rain forest. To start a conversation with him was easy!
You will be so happy that you now are having great family meals. Oh, and by the way, these conversation rules work with everyone!! I use them at parties when I’m not sure what to say. These tips really get people talking!!
“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
~ Dorothy Nevill