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Family dinners: Start a new family tradition this holiday season

By Neil Allen

dinnerconversationsAs Thanksgiving approaches and we start preparing for the yearly tradition of dinner with the family, it is a good time to think about what daily traditions we have and how to use them to strengthen our families.

One of the easiest ways to do this is with family dinner time. For many of us, dinner time is the only time during the busy day that the family comes together and are all in one place. When my daughter was younger, one of the things a former boyfriend insisted upon was sitting down at the table for dinner and talking about the day. It was really nice. There were no rules around it but it was also a bit before technology took over our lives.

Jamie Reimer from “Hands On As We Grow” website recommends three rules to help make dinner time more focused: no technology at the table (cell phones, tablets, gaming devices, etc.), no negative comments, and the conversations need to be meaningful.

The only rules I would add is that everyone has to be part of the conversation so no one is able to have a monopoly on the dinner time and that no one can give one or two word answers.

What can you talk about? If you do a search on the Internet, you’ll be able to find dozens of questions to promote conversation. The kinds of questions that will be good for your family will depend on the age of your children and the kind of conversations you want to have — “asking about things that happened during the day” or fun questions. You can put a bunch of the questions on individual pieces of paper then pick a new one out every night.

Some questions you can ask about the day:

  • What was something that made you happy, and why did it make you happy?
  • What was something nice that you did for someone, and what was something nice someone did for you?
  • What made you laugh today?
  • Were you sad or frustrated today, and what made you sad or frustrated?
  • What were you challenged with today?

Some fun questions you can ask:

  • What name would you choose for yourself and why?
  • What animal would you be and why?
  • If you could have a super power, what would it be?
  • What two animals would you combine, and what would it be called?
  • What is your favorite piece of furniture, and why?

Hopefully these will lead to many interesting conversations for you and your family. Please share some of your favorite questions and answers in our comments.