Families nowdays are so busy. Most kids and their parents have jam packed schedules with various activities and commitments that make it hard to really connect and communicate. Many families rarely have regular sit-down dinners together anymore. This is not only sad, but is thought to have a negative impact on kids academically and socially, and possibly even psychologically.
Parents really need to make an effort to schedule a few regular family dinners every week, and invest in their relationship with their children through dinnertime conversation. Many parents wonder how to get their kids to open up and stay interested. It's a good idea to make the table a no-phone zone and let everyone know that this is important family time.
There are many ways to encourage interesting conversations. Some people play 20 questions. Others take turns discussing their day. Some pray together. My brother had a great idea that really worked for his family. He and his wife have 2 daughters. My brother's idea was to have a child pick any topic at breakfast and sometime during that day, the child had to find a couple of facts on the topic and be ready to discuss at dinner. Example - if the topic was guinea pigs - she might look at the library or online about where guinea pigs come from and what they like to eat (not realizing she's probably reading more than just 2 facts....) and then she presents this at dinner and the family starts asking more questions and/or discussing their opinions of guinea pigs or the care and handling of a guinea pig, or what to name guinea pigs, etc, until it blossoms into a meal-long conversation. Sometimes they would do this during the clean-up and dishes to make it go faster. Sometimes the conversation would end up getting silly and the whole family would be joking and laughing together. Not only did they reinforce their bond with my nieces, but they learned something along the way. I've always thought this was a great idea! The 'girls' are actually now 28 and 26 years old and both say this was always so much fun. It made them look forward to meal times and they cherish these memories. I can't wait until we can do this with our son, who is 2 and just beginning to talk.
Does your family eat meals together regularly? How do you encourage mealtime conversations?