A facebook friend recently asked what she can do to make family suppers last longer. It really doesn’t take that long to eat a meal, particularly if your children are small eaters who don’t ask for seconds. We often have an idea of what a family meal should look like…lingering around the table enjoying each other…But sometimes this isn’t reality without some help.
Sometimes it helps to have some conversation prompts to get the words flowing. Once the family starts talking, sometimes they don’t want to stop, but it’s getting them started that’s the hard part.
One question we ask at the end of each meal is “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” It began as a way to add some uplifting conversation to the meal, and it became a tradition without us even trying! Now if we forget, the kids remind us.
During the meal I have also begun asking, “Does anyone have anything interesting they saw or heard today?” Or, “Silas, what is the most interesting thing you heard today?” This has really added to the conversation and slowness of our meals! We have talked about everything from politics to military heroes to sharing our faith to wise and unwise choices. While our “best thing” can be limited to a few words, talking about what we find interesting often leads to great conversations. This is a new question, but I’ll probably keep asking it at each meal until interesting conversation becomes a habit.
One day, I imagine that we will have only young adults around our table. I want to make sure that we lay the foundation now for great discussion. If we cultivate the gift of sharing now, I trust that it will continue easily when our children are grown. We learn to communicate, and we also learn to listen and appreciate the ideas of others around the table.
What about you? How do you make family meals unrushed and meaningful?