It’s possible that dinner conversation is not quite what you had dreamed of. I had fantasies of a happy family gathered around, politely eating a meal that they appreciated and each person happily chatting about their day, one at a time. If you have that, congratulations. You have my respect. If that is still just an aspiration, you are not alone.
There are so many family dynamics that go into happy family meals. This article only addresses the art of getting family members to share about their day. I, for one, have been guilty of asking kids through all their ages, “How was your day?” Then I wait and expect them to give me a nice, thoughtful, executive summary with a beginning, middle and end focused on the parts of their day that I find interesting. Go ahead. Laugh at me as you picture me trying that with my three rowdy boys who were not quite so, ummm… CALM or verbal when they were young. (Does that imply that they are calm now? Oh, sorry… that wouldn’t quite be accurate, either…)
Two tips to up the odds of your satisfaction with dinner conversation:
- Don’t put pressure on the kids to regale you with stories of their day. Tell a couple stories yourself. Keep them short, sweet, and kid-friendly. This is modeling how to talk about one’s day.
- Come up with a way of sharing that speaks to your particular “pack.” (Because isn’t every family its own unique pack of sorts?)
Here are a few tried-and-true options to experiment with:
- Have everyone spin a little dial that points to different feelings to share.
- Everyone share their “Rose (grateful), Thorn (hard part) and Bud (hope).”
- Share “Mad, Sad, Glad.”
- Find out what each person is grateful for.
- Buy or create a little box of questions to be answered and take turns drawing one.
- Or, try my favorite for young boys, shared with me by a father/stepfather of SIX BOYS–Have everyone share their “Popsicle” and “Poopsicle” of the day. Leave it to a little boy to find that question hilarious. (Oh wait… I’m pretty sure my college-aged boys would still find that amusing.)
- Bring one current event to the table and share your thoughts about it.
- Bring one “fun fact” to the table to discuss.
Don’t go for meal-time perfection any more than you expect them to have all of life figured out. This is a skill to be developed over time.