I love family dinner and am fortunate enough to eat my main meal with my husband and both children almost every night of the week, thanks to flexible work schedules and a desire on all of our parts to chow down on some grub together at least once a day. After nearly 15 years of parenting, I think I’ve nailed down the actual dinner part of the equation, but it’s the conversation side of the things that is often lacking. The typical “how was your day?” is often answered with “fine,” and “what did you do at school?” is usually accompanied with “nothing.”
In an effort to get our kids to actually speak TO us, we came up with some family dinner conversation starters, which we pull out a few times a week when we sense that the kids aren’t feeling their chattiest. Here are some of the more popular questions we’ve posed to our boys over the years, and almost all of them ensure the dinner is never dull.
1. If you could eat just one food everyday for a month and nothing else, what would it be?
2. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
3. If you could trade places with your parents for a day, what would you do differently?
4. What do you want to be when you grow up and why?
5. What would you do if you were a king or a queen?
6. if you could create a new tradition for our family, what would it be? Or how would you change a family tradition we already have?
7. Who is the funniest person you know?
8. If you woke up tomorrow and could do something that you can’t do today, what would it be?
9. Who is your favourite character from a book, movie or TV show? Why?
10. What is the one thing you wish you had discovered?
11. If you could have only one of your senses, which would you choose?
Also, one more thing to consider: In my experience it’s important to encourage discussions that have nothing to do with the actual dinner on the table. This will look different for every family, of course, but if you can successfully avoid talking about the food or meal while you’re dining, you decrease the chances of opening up the conversation to critiquing what’s on the plate, which in turn can lead to a stressful dinner. Instead, focus on the positive conversations that create laughter and ensure everyone enjoys being at the table. This holds true for parents as well; instead of discussing the to-do list or an issue with your boss, bring something light-hearted and fun to the table instead.