Family dinner—the concept is a good one backed by decades of research. Eating together can improve parent-child relationships, give children a sense of stability and connectedness, and result in fewer behavioral problems. But reality isn’t always so simple. “Sit down! Try just one bite! Stooooop playing with your food!”
Inviting our kids into conversation and actively listening to what they say validates that their voice matters. The dinner table is an ideal time to talk with each other. A little structure and creativity can transform mealtime chaos into fun for the whole family!
Start by making a list of open-ended questions (steer away from questions with a “yes” or “no” answer) tailored to your children’s ages and interests. Avoid addressing behavioral concerns or sensitive topics around the family dinner table. Instead, create fun, interactive, and creative questions! Make a conversation jar or basket and load it up with questions your kids can pull from the jar each evening.
Download these table topics to jump-start your family’s dinner chats!
Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Printed table topics
2. To be fully present at dinner
3. Open heart and listening ears
 Hofferth, Sandra, and John Sandberg, “How American Children Spend Their Time,” Journal of Marriage and Family, March 2, 2004, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2001.00295.x.