Let’s talk dinnertime conversations: Do you talk around the dinner table? Share your day? Ask your kids about theirs?
In a Family Meals Survey that I conducted in 2010, 76.6 percent of respondents said that personal news was their favorite dinnertime conversation. Another 73.4 percent said family news and 72.3 percent said what’s happening at school.
Sounds somewhat like our table.
Once the food is cooked (me), the table is set (the kids) and we’re all sitting down, I usually ask the kids how school was and what the best thing that happened that day was. Sometimes we talk about what we’ll be doing over the weekend or in the coming days. Sometimes we talk about a fun visit from a friend coming up. Or maybe I will pull out a fun imagination question like … if you could be any animal at all, what would you be and why? And we do this while also enforcing table rules — no talking with your mouth full, eating politely, etc.
The hard thing for us though is that Shawn and I come from totally different dinnertime traditions. While his family ate quietly and then lingered at the table to chat, I come from a talk-and-eat family. And since I am home for dinner almost every night and he’s not, he’s had to adapt to the way I do things.
Perhaps I should compromise more — but when you’re the one doing the majority of the parenting and the one always there, it’s hard to bend to someone else’s preference. Especially when that preference involves silence at the dinner table. But that’s a conversation for another day.
I have to tell you something though — I know that talking over dinner is important. I’ve read the research and interviewed the experts. I know it makes a differences for kids in their lives. And I also know that I enjoy it. But I also find it hard. As a child, I was the youngest in the family (my siblings are significantly younger than I am, so I spent many years as an only child), so I’m more apt to listen, observe and think at the table. Yes, I spoke at the table as a child, but I wasn’t a conversation starter. So in my adulthood, I’m more likely to respond then start conversations over dinner. Still, as a mom, the whole start a conversation responsibility falls squarely on my shoulders. If I don’t start the talking, who will?
So, it’s been a challenge … learning to lead the dinnertime conversation instead of just participate. Am I am alone in this? Anyone else?
I’d love to hear what your favorite dinner discussion topics are — or if you have some surefire discussion starter questions that make the conversation irresistibly fun. Share in the comments!