Since going back to work part-time it’s become harder and harder to find time to really sit down and connect with the kids. Sure we have weekends and evenings, but those hours are usually filled with chores, grocery store runs and during the school year, homework. Dinnertime is a precious 30-60 minutes of time when as a family we can catch up on our day and talk about our plans for the week. It’s also the best time to tackle some pretty big topics.
Dinner time conversations tend to be be less confrontational. With food in your mouth you have an excuse to take your time forming answers and thinking about exactly how much information you want to impart to your offspring. These are also conversations that you can revisit as your kids get older and they are able to be given more complex answers.
These are some of the conversations we have had around our dinner table.
What was the best part of your day? Getting kids to talk about their days can sometimes be like pulling teeth. That’s why I try to stick to questions that don’t have a yes/no answer. Asking your child what the best part of their day was starts off conversations on a positive note and opens them up to sharing more about their day, even if bad experiences were a part of that day.
When you were little/When I was a kid…Kids love nothing better than revisiting memorable moments from their lives. Even better is when mom or dad shares something funny from when they were kids.
Ten things I like about you. Start of by listing one thing you like about your child and why you feel this way. Work your way around the table and get each family member involved in picking something that they love about the person across from them or beside them. This can be a real boost of confidence when a child is feeling down about themselves and a good reminder to everyone that even when you are feeling like you just aren’t good at anything, other people see the good in you.
What happens when someone dies? Whoa, this is a heavy, but important topic. Typically this conversation ends up happening when someone in the family or close circle of friends dies. We all hate thinking of the possibility of someone you love passing away but it is inevitable. My little ones all went through a stage where they seemed fixated on people passing and would come crying to me saying they didn’t ever want me to die. Talking about “the circle of life” in a way that they can process it, and your family’s beliefs surrounding the subject will help settle your kids’ minds should they be faced with it.
What is a drug and why is it bad? It’s never too early to start talking about drugs with your kids and about the differences between prescription drugs and street drugs and the dangers of both. They will be faced with drugs sooner than you think. Even though my oldest kids are only in junior high they’ve already encountered peers who have tried drugs. Discussing drugs around the table allows me to help them feel their way through some of the tough things they will face in life, and often leads to them asking questions about other tough subjects. It also allows me to help them formulate strategies should they be faced with peer pressure in the future.
These, of course, are all just suggestions. The important thing is to put down your devices and use your time around the table wisely. Our dinner table acts more like a round table where we tackle both fun and tough topics equally. We discuss everything from where we want to take our next vacation to tougher topics like sexuality. Nothing is taboo, although I do limit bodily function talk to other times. It may only be thirty minutes out of your day, but it also can be the time with the biggest impact.
Visit Barilla pasta’s new initiative Share the Table for more ways you can connect with your family around the dinner table. While there, enter to win one of three trips for four to Italy. For every entry in the contest, Barilla® will donate a meal to Food Banks Canada, so enter once each day.
Disclosure – This post has been generously sponsored by Barilla Pasta. All opinions expressed are my own.