Making family meals fun and meaningful may be easier than you imagine and more beneficial than you know. Most researchers agree that kids who take part in family meals at least three times a week eat more healthy foods and experience less delinquency, greater academic achievement, less depression, and more positive family interactions. What is most important though is HOW families eat together. The following are three key ingredients for fulfilling family meals.
- Open conversations: Does everyone have an equal voice? Does everyone feel heard? Can you have open discussions without judgment, where everyone is allowed to have their own opinion? Having spirited but respectful discussions is the breeding ground for understanding, empathy, advocacy, and closeness.
- Technology-free: Research shows that having devices presentat the dinner table causes people to feel more distracted, less connected, have lower enjoyment and less trust, and reduces the extent to which participants feel empathy and understanding of each other. Even a silenced, turned-off phoneon the dinner table causes people to feel disconnected. Make agreements as a family that everyone, including mom and dad, maybe especially mom and dad, will leave their devices away from the table.
- Conversation starters: My wife and I created a set of 202 conversation starters called, Dinner Dialogue Cards to get the sharing started. One person reads off a card question, shares their answer, and then everyone else answers the question as well. The card subjects range from fun to very deep, and I guarantee that you will get to know each other at much deeper levels. Here are a few samples of conversation starter cards:
- When do you feel the most you, authentic, fulfilled, passionate, engaged: what, who, why?
- The person I am most grateful for is…
- Best advice you would give a girl/ boy younger than you?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- Who taught you the most about being trustworthy and how did they teach you?
- Last time you were brave…
- People at school would describe me as…
- The most important qualities in a BFF are…
- What changes would you like to see in your family in regard to technology usage?
- How did you get your name?
The holidays are upon us, so add these ingredients to the mix that becomes a more open, empathetic, fun, close family spirit at your dinner table.
You can order a box of Dinner Dialogue Cards by clicking on this link; enjoy!