Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dinner Talk

We've been taught from a young age that talking with your mouth full is a sign of bad manners.  It's also been said that a well rounded family is often a result of many dinners together.  But "elbows off the table" or 'eat your peas' don't make for getting to know your family and teaching your children the importance of time spent together.  They say that kids who participate in regular family meals often have better grades, larger vocabularies and just better overall health than kids who don't.  So I say make dinnertime more entertaining for the entire family.  Share your ideas, listen to other's ideas, explore your creativity and be let in on your kids wildest dreams.  Pick a topic of discussion for each dinner (sort of like this blog challenge).  Challenge yourself to come up with unique, interesting and thought provoking questions to ask once the food has been dished out.  This idea can be used with families, on dates, or just to get the conversation going when you feel like you've run out of things to talk about with your partner.  I've included some questions to ask your family to get things started:

1.  What drives you crazy?  (This is meant to be lighthearted.  A discussion about pet peeves, not an out and out attack session. However, once pet peeves are brought out into the open, family members might actually realize they do things, unknowningly, that irritate other members of the family.  So something good could come out of this.)

2.  What is the best thing that happened to you today?  (This will get things off to a positive start and force your family to think about what they should be grateful for.  Make sure you encourage your child to tell you more details about this 'best' thing to help keep the conversation going.)

3.  Ask each family member to create a story about what happens when you flush the toilet.  (Be prepared for some silly and imaginative answers.  Hopefully you hear some really creative stories with, of course, the appropriate age related bathroom humour thrown in for good measure.  Don't inundate your child with the logistics of the sewage system...BORING!!!)

4.  If you could build your own house, what would it look like?  What special features would you build in it?  (This allows your kid to come up with some crazy and probably brilliant ideas {like a trampoline room}.  Some that you likely wish you had in your own house!)

5.  If you could live anywhere - truly anywhere; it could be the Earth, in outer space, a fictional world - where would you live?  (More than likely your kids will draw on recent books or movies they've seen but this should bring out some creativity if you continue to ask detailed questions.)

6.  If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?  (This is a timeless classic, I've used this one many times myself with many people.  But since most young children fantasize about this particular subject, you'll likely find them shouting answers out to you pretty quickly.)

7.  If you had a giant pool and could fill it with anything you wanted, what would you fill it with?  (Depending on the age of each person at the table, this question should yeild you a huge range of answers.) 

8.  If something was broken and you had to fix it but didn't know how, what would you do?  (This conversation starter will idealy help your children start to problem solve.  Or at least pick up tips from the older people at the table on how to find solutions to problems.)

9.  If you could follow a rainbow to the very end, what do you think you'll find?  (The common answer is a pot of gold or a leprachaun, but if you've never really gotten into that with them, the answers might be more unique.)

10.  If you were to meet a space alien, what three activities would you do with it?  (This question will let the children dominate the conversation because most kids are thrilled with the idea of making friends with an alien.)

So there are 10 questions to try out on your family over the next few weeks while you are sitting down together for dinner.  It's probably best not to bombard them day after day with these conversation starters, but maybe do a couple a week and start increasing from there.  Hopefully they'll catch on and start to enjoy these dinner talks and maybe even come up with their own questions for everyone.  What a great way to learn more about the people your kids are becoming and a wonderful opportunity to hang on to your childhood imagination and creativity. 

If you are stuck for more ideas, you should check out the book Dinner Talk by Emily Hall, Philip Hall and Nancy Hall.  There are enough similar questions and conversation starters in this book to keep you going for an entire year! 

What do you talk about at your dinner table?


  1. We make a point of having dinner as often as possible.. I think that it is very important.. Participation in sport makes it challenging, but Sunday is Family dinner time.. The kids aren't even to have their cell phones! We have experimented with some topics. You have some great suggestions here! Great post!

  2. Really like this one! I have one to add that we have tried as well: We all sit in different seats at the table for dinner and act like the person that usually sits in that seat! The kids love to imitate us, and we love to pretend to be them for the whole dinner and make them clean up!! :)

  3. Now I feel really bad that we don't sit around a dinner table as a family... :(