As part of a video recording, I was asked how I encouraged the boys (henceforth known as the little weasels) to come to the dinner table. Without missing a beat, the 10 year-old piped up that ‘Mommy just puts it on a plate and brings it down to us in front of the TV.” ^Mortified. But also… kind of true. We try to have at least three meals a week around the table but sometimes that path of least resistance reigns. Everyone always praises family dinners, but as I grew up an only child with parents who would quickly divorce, the ‘family dinner’ was often laboured, strained and uncomfortable. Maybe my childhood angst is now being brought to my own table.
Dinner Table Family Discussion Topics
Brainstorming ways to make brunch or dinner fun and easier, I thought bright and cheerful conversation starters in a jar would be a great thing to do. Many family dinner questions are mundane, but it occurred to me that this would be an amazing chance to really connect and ‘crowd source’ the family decisions. ‘Is our discipline appropriate?’ ‘Have you ever thought of running away?’ Also, knowing my boys’ strengths and insecurities really gives us the chance to encourage them. ‘What makes you a great friend?’ ‘What do you know so well, you could teach others?’
Here are 36 questions we’ve come up with, and we are loving this so much that I am sure to publish more and more as they come up—think of it… religion, equality… US politics. Oh what fun!
Ways to Encourage Mealtime Chats With Kids
Often, kids clam up at the dinner table. Maybe it’s manners. Maybe they just want to see a screen. I find that having a ritual can really help. It doesn’t have to be religious – just having each person say what they are grateful for is enough. Once you begin to eat, it’s great to let the kids take the lead. Gently encouraging them by asking questions about things they are good at can help break the ice. The questions below are just a starting point – you can print them off, cut each one out and stick them in a jar for each person to pull out over dinner. You can have the kids choose favourites and practice handwriting by writing them on cue cards for that night’s dinner. Translate into Klingon. Make up more and write them on rocks. Anything goes. Because the most important thing is communication. Have great chats!!!
36 Family Dinner Questions
What is your favourite silly face to make?
Name three things that are fun for you.
If you couldn’t watch TV or go online for a month, how would you spend that time?
If you had $100 to spend to help people, how would you spend the money?
If you could go anywhere in the world for a week, where would it be?
How can you tell someone you love them without using words?
If you could talk to your whole school all at once, what would you say?
How is this year at school different from last year?
What was the best year of your life so far? Explain.
If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
What is your biggest fear?
What are the qualities that make you a good friend?
What is your favourite family tradition?
What is one thing you could have done better today?
What is your most embarrassing moment?
If you had the attention of the world for just 10 seconds, what would you say?
What is something you want to learn how to do and why?
What scares you the most and why?
If we had a special day together what would you want to do?
Is the discipline in our family fair?
Does it matter if a person makes a moral or immoral choice, if no one ever knows?
Do adults automatically deserve respect? How do you earn respect?
What do you know how to do that you could teach someone else?
Have I ever not noticed when you’re sad?
When you get really angry, how do you help yourself calm down?
Do you ever feel peer pressure? Do you think some people are more susceptible to peer pressure than others? Why do you think that is?
How do you think ordinary peoples’ bodies compare to the models and actors on TV? How does it make you feel to watch them?
When do you feel the most proud of who you are?
Do you believe in God? Why or why not? If so, how do you picture God?
What about you inspires other people?
If you could have one dream come true, which dream would it be?
Who have you learned the most from so far?
If you made a special dinner for our family what would you serve?
If you were in danger and couldn’t call 911 what would you do?
What do you think your relationship with your siblings will be like when you grow up?
Has there ever been a time when you felt like running away?
Anything to add? Believe me – this is a VERY addictive little game! (And then you can pull them out at swanky dinner parties as well….)