38: Dinner Conversations

Topics

  1. What are they?
  2. Why do we have them?
  3. Rules
  4. Examples of ideas to spark dinner conversations

family_dinner

Background

Years ago Amy was thanking her parents for all that they taught her about values, how to be a good person, and so much more. Her parents told her that what they did for her won’t be enough for her kids today. More needs to be done to teach them and reinforce and prepare them for today’s world. Amy realized they could make better use of their time together at dinner every day, having better quality conversations. She compiled a list of questions to pick each night during dinner to spark conversations with the kids. Amy put them into categories like friends, values, drugs, etc. so they could cover just about any topic the kids deal with today.

If this is something you want to implement with your family, you can either type up the questions, cut them into strips of paper and put them in a jar to pull out each day and discuss, or you could put them on a note card, in categories in a little box and pull them out that way. Mitchell use the questions glued onto note cards, so they can write the responses from the kids on the note card and refer to them again later. They also let their kids take turns choosing the card from a category they want to talk about.

Dave listened to a podcast recently and learned about something called the Ungame. A lady named Rhea Zakich developed nodules on her vocal chords, so her doctor recommended she not talk for a few months to give them time to heal. During this time, she took a notebook around with her and wrote down questions she wanted to ask her family, and she realized how poorly her family communicated. So they started spending time answering the questions she had written in her notebook when they were together. This really improved their family relationships.

What are dinner conversations?

Dinner conversations can be started by asking questions that cover a wide variety of topics that families can discuss while sitting around the dinner table.

Why have dinner conversations?

  1. To get to know your family members better
  2. To teach values to your kids
  3. To discuss situations that children may one day find themselves in, so they have a plan now of how to act later when they are really in that situation.

Rules

  1. Provide a safe environment where all answers are accepted and not mocked.
  2. Only one person talks at a time.
  3. Everyone is part of the same conversation.
  4. Add whatever rules you feel your family needs to keep it a positive and engaging tradition for everyone.

Example Conversation Starters:

The Mitchell’s list of dinner conversations can be found at www.organizedfamily.co in exchange for your email address.

Body Image and Gender Roles:

  1. Do you believe men and women are equally smart?
  2. Do you know anyone with an eating disorder? What is an eating disorder?
  3. If you could look like anyone else, who would you look like?

Drug and Alcohol Use:

  1. What do your friends do at parties? Have you been to a party where you were offered a drink? How did you react? If you haven’t been to a party like that, what would you do if you were?
  2. What would you do if you were in a car with a driver who had been drinking?

Emotions:

  1. What do you do to cheer yourself up when you feel down?
  2. What hurts your feelings? How do you act when your feelings are hurt?

Entertainment:

  1. Should kids be allowed to watch whatever movies they want?
  2. How much TV should kids watch a day?
  3. Name 3 movie stars you most admire.

Family:

  1. What do you think makes a family close?
  2. What qualities do your mom or dad have that you wish you could have when you get older?
  3. What should a parent do when their children don’t obey?
  4. Tell everyone around the table what you love about them.
  5. How do you feel about your grandparents?

Friends:

  1. If your friend stole something what would you do?
  2. What’s the nicest thing your friend has done for you? What’s the meanest thing your friend has done?
  3. Which of your parents’ friends do you like the most and why? And parents, which of your kids’ friends do you like the most and why?

Getting to Know Your Child:

  1. What 5 things do you want to accomplish by the time you are 30 years old?
  2. If you could change 3 things about yourself what would they be?
  3. If you could organize a field trip for your class where would you go?

Love, Sex, and Marriage:

  1. How would you feel if you found out your friend was homosexual?
  2. How do you feel about dating?
  3. How is love different in real life than in the movies?

Meals:

  1. Should meal preparation be the responsibility of just the parents or should kids help?
  2. How can you show your appreciation after a meal?
  3. What meals do you know how to cook?

Money Management:

  1. Should kids be paid for chores in the home or not?
  2. If you won $100, what would you do with it?
  3. What’s the difference between rich and wealthy?

Spirituality:

  1. Is spirituality the same as religion or different?
  2. What do you think happens to you after you die?

Values:

  1. Do adults automatically deserve respect?
  2. What could our family do to make the world a better place?
  3. What would you do if all the kids were planning on cheating on a test?

Your Relationship with Your Child:

  1. What punishment have I given to you that you thought was really unfair?
  2. How do you describe me to your friends? How do I describe you to my friends?

This weeks photo is “Family” by billac and can be found on flicker at https://www.flickr.com/photos/billac/84942065/

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4 thoughts to “038: Family: Dinner Conversations

  • Emily

    I really liked this idea and have signed up for the newsletter but I can’t figure out where I can get the list of questions?
    You guys are great! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Dave

      Emily,

      I just sent you an email with the link to the conversation resource and the subscriber page.

      Reply
      • Stacey

        I love this idea too. I’ve been coming up with some questions on my own. It has really calmed the table down and everyone speaks when it’s their turn instead of 6 conversations going on at once and us going crazy as parents. I can’t find the list of your questions and I’m losing my creativity. Can you send me the link as well please? Thanks.

        Reply
        • Dave

          Stacy,

          Sorry it’s taken me so long to read this comment. I’ve sent you the link.

          Dave

          Reply

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