Tag Archives: dinner conversations

Sunday Morning Shout Out


dinnerWe all know dinner together as a family is important.  But did you know it is the best predictor of how adolescence will go for our children?  In my favorite go- to place for professional advice about “Happy Familiying,” Dr. Laura Markham, Ph.D., at the “Aha Parenting” website, discusses why dinner and eating together are the glue that keep families strong.

Dinner is a protective factor for all family members and an extremely powerful one for adolescents, especially.  The more frequently teens eat with their families, the more likely they are: to do well in school, not do drugs, and become sexually active in high school, depressed, or suicidal.  They are many factors at play.  Families that regularly eat together, offer structure and routine to their children.  They offer oversight and supervision to teens and all children, in a world that can be utterly fast and risky for all.  Dinnertime offers children a sense of identity as a family, tradition, and stability.  In a world where a lot is changeable and stressful, regular dinner offers a family a constant.  Dinnertime is a place to check in with one another about each other’s day—the good, bad, and ugly.  It is a place to ask more questions about what occurred at school; what your children’s feelings and thoughts are about family events; and it is a place to weigh in, for all parties.  Most importantly, it is a place to belong, connect, and build better relationships.

As ideal as this sounds, life is not always conducive to sitting down together.  Many different schedules can exist in the same house.  If this is not happening at all, Markham says to aim for a few days a week.  The more times you can do this, the greater the effect! Perhaps it is a single parent home. Maybe, one spouse works later than another.  There is still great power in sitting down together regularly, as a family with a single parent or as a family where one parent is the regular one at dinner.  Markham suggests if one parent gets home later than the other, everyone could sit down and have a snack together.  Or, there could be special emphasis placed on weekend dinners together.  Weekends could then be kept sacred for dinner.  She also states that families may want to adjust dinner time to eat earlier or later, if it means everyone can eat together.

There are other practical things to keep in mind, according to Markham.  Do not get hung up on making an elaborate dinner, at the expense of energy, patience, and time! It is better to put all these ingredients into the actual activity of connecting with one another.  She also talks about creating a welcoming dinner atmosphere, and biting your tongue as a parent if needed.  The idea is build up one another and connect as a family, rather than tearing each down over a difference of opinion or behavioral critique.  She lists some creative resources for promoting dinner conversation, so it goes beyond, “How was your day?”  One classic approach is having everyone give their high and low points of the day-or their roses and thorns.  The point is to connect, converse, and feed more than just the appetite.  When we do this with our families, we do so much more than eat….

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New Years – Conversation Starters


So the end of our calendar year is upon us again as we say goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016. We have made another orbit around the sun and many cultures find this time of the year to be a time to reflect on the past, plan for the future and generally hope for more prosperity. It is also a great time to talk with and listen to your children about their thoughts about their year and what they hope for in the coming year.

Of course starting a meaningful conversation beyond ‘what do you want for dinner’, ‘do you have any homework…is it done?’ and/or ‘did you pick-up your toys?’ with a child or teen can seem a harrowing task.  Below you will find a few conversation starters you might try the next couple of days.  Remember you might be surprised by the response but you should try not to be negative nor judgemental. Should that surprise (which can actually be good) happen, a positive way to understand the response better is to ask ‘can you tell me more about that?’ or ‘what makes that important to you?’.  Digging a bit deeper just might bring a smile to your face and warmth to you heart.

New Years Conversation Starters

  • What word describes the last year for you?
  • What word do you think will describe the next year?
  • What is your educational goal for this year?
  • What are you most proud of in the past year?
  • If you had the power to change something in the past year what would it be? Why?
  • What was the best advice you had last year?
  • What you do in the new year that will help make the world a better place to live?
  • Did anything inspire you last year?
  • What was your favorite memory of last year?
  • What is one thing you really want to do in the coming year?

For a nice set of 220 free questions you can print on index cards visit the Balancing Beauty and Bedlam website.

Happy New Year!

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New Years – Conversation Starters


So the end of our calendar year is upon us again as we say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015. We have made another orbit around the sun and many cultures find this time of the year to be a time to reflect on the past, plan for the future and generally hope for more prosperity. It is also a great time to talk with and listen to your children about their thoughts about their year and what they hope for in the coming year.

Of course starting a meaningful conversation beyond ‘what do you want for dinner’, ‘do you have any homework…is it done?’ and/or ‘did you pick-up your toys?’ with a child or teen can seem a harrowing task.  Below you will find a few conversation starters you might try the next couple of days.  Remember you might be surprised by the response but you should try not to be negative nor judgemental. Should that surprise (which can actually be good) happen, a positive way to understand the response better is to ask ‘can you tell me more about that?’ or ‘what makes that important to you?’.  Digging a bit deeper just might bring a smile to your face and warmth to you heart.

New Years Conversation Starters

  • What word describes the last year for you?
  • What word do you think will describe the next year?
  • What is your educational goal for this year?
  • What are you most proud of in the past year?
  • If you had the power to change something in the past year what would it be? Why?
  • What was the best advice you had last year?
  • What you do in the new year that will help make the world a better place to live?
  • Did anything inspire you last year?
  • What was your favorite memory of last year?
  • What is one thing you really want to do in the coming year?

For a nice set of 220 free questions you can print on index cards visit the Balancing Beauty and Bedlam website.

Happy New Year!

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


dinnerIt was a poor end to the week.  At a family event, let me just say our children showed their less than precious sides.  Unfortunately, this has happened a few times recently.  Something needed to be done to address these matters.  The usual course did not seem to be bringing meaningful or long lasting results.

We are riddled with many stressors and tensions, along with some great stuff!  Our households are no different.  Before your household resembles Mt. Vesuvius or your family unit feels like it is lacking cohesion and running amok, consider holding a family meeting.  They can be a great way to resolve household concerns and strengthen the foundation of your family organization.

Like a business, an organization, or a team, a family unit must work together to run efficiently; have a united front and vision; and share concerns and successes.  There are some great tips for having a successful family meeting at numerous websites like ehow.com; verydaylife; and  lemon-lime adventures.  From encouraging a set scheduled time once a week for meetings to actual templates to follow, there are some suggestions as to how to proceed.

I can tell you how ours proceeded.  It occurred during dinner time.  This does not always work in our house as a certainly vivacious three year-old can dominate dinner time with his less than proper meeting antics (A certain little boy happened to be sleeping during this dinner.  Ahead of time, I came up with an agenda.  I encouraged my husband to add anything he wanted to the agenda.  Before we broke right into the issues that needed to be addressed, I told them a story about their great- grand parents and their grand-parents, to stress the character points we were focusing on at that meeting.  This seemed to work very nicely on many levels, at keeping them engaged.

There was some discomfort when it came to bringing up specific behaviors that needed to be looked at and improved upon, to the point we had to ask the girls to keep focused and not duck the conversation.  Ahead of time, I had written down certain goals for each girl.  We reiterated what we expected and told them these meetings will be a regular occurrence in their lives.  They will be used to check in and assess where we are all at as a family.  We also made it clear that they needed to hold up their end of the bargain, in terms of behavioral changes and doing expected chores, if they wanted us to do the “extras” with them.  Without mincing words, they were told being taken to and from, and quite frankly even being part of clubs and activities were a privilege they had to earn.  There was room for them to voice any concerns or questions they had for us. It ended on a lighter note with some old, funny stories being rehashed.

While this “formula” might not work for all families, it seems to have helped ours.  I have noticed a change this week.  Now they must stick with the behavioral changes; refocused dedication to pitching in at home; and in terms of my husband and I, holding meetings weekly to address behavior concerns; motivate the children; keep them accountable; come together as a family, and hopefully get stronger and more cohesive…..

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New Years – Conversation Starters


So the end of our calendar year is upon us again. We have made another orbit around the sun and many cultures find this time of the year to be a time to reflect on the past, plan for the future and generally hope for more prosperity. It is also a great time to talk with and listen to your children about their thoughts about their year and what they hope for in the coming year.

Of course starting a meaningful conversation beyond ‘what do you want for dinner’, ‘do you have any homework…is it done?’ and/or ‘did you pick-up your toys?’ with a child or teen can seem a harrowing task. Below you will find a few conversation starters you might try the next couple of days. Remember you might be surprised by the response but you should try not to be negative nor judgemental. Should that surprise (which can actually be good) happen, a positive way to understand the response better is to ask ‘can you tell me more about that?’ or ‘what makes that important to you?’. Digging a bit deeper just might bring a smile to your face and warmth to you heart.

New Years Conversation Starters

  • What word describes the last year for you?
  • What word do you think will describe the next year?
  • What is your educational goal for this year?
  • What are you most proud of in the past year?
  • If you had the power to change something in the past year what would it be? Why?
  • What was the best advice you had last year?
  • What you do in the new year that will help make the world a better place to live?
  • Did anything inspire you last year?
  • What was your favorite memory of last year?
  • What is one thing you really want to do in the coming year?

For a nice set of 220 free questions you can print on index cards visit the Balancing Beauty and Bedlam website.

Happy New Year!

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Laughter Is …


It is a commonly accepted wisdom that laughter is the best medicine.  Researchers in a variety of fields including Economics, Psychology, Business, and of course medical sciences have all looked at laughter/humor and generally find scientific support for the ability of laughter to help us humans heal or deal with pain.

Not sure if science supports it, but I also believe that humor is a great way for children to learn and families to ‘talk’.  This was evident this past Christmas for our household as we sat down to brunch, lit our advent candles, said a prayer of thanks and did our holiday poppers (aka. Christmas Crackers).  These were great poppers with great paper crowns, little toys and a joke which we each read out loud.  This helped keep the mood festive and the conversation flowing despite the weight of my step-fathers recently confirmed terminal illness that will probably take his physical being from us in a few weeks.

The popper jokes were a perfect ‘happy pill’ for me and I thought I’d share them here and hope they bring you a bit of joy and conversation.

Q. How do snails keep their shells shiny?

A. They use snail varnish

 

Q. What do you get if you cross a stereo with a refrigerator?

A. Cool Music

 

Q. Where should a dressmaker build her house?

A. On the outskirts

 

Q. What has a bed but does not sleep, and a mouth but does not speak?

A. A river

 

Seasons Greetings!

P.S.  In referencing and linking for this post I came across this joke that was officially selected as the funniest joke in the United Kingdom and it will stimulate much spontaneous laughter.

A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says: “That’s the ugliest baby that I’ve ever seen. Ugh!” The woman goes to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her: “The driver just insulted me!” The man says: “You go right up there and tell him off—go ahead, I’ll hold your monkey for you.”

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New Years – Conversation Starters


2013-CalendarSo the end of our calendar year is upon us again. We have made another orbit around the sun and many cultures find this time of the year to be a time to reflect on the past, plan for the future and generally hope for more prosperity. It is also a great time to talk with and listen to your children about their thoughts about their year and what they hope for in the coming year.

Of course starting a meaningful conversation beyond ‘what do you want for dinner’, ‘do you have any homework…is it done?’ and/or ‘did you pick-up your toys?’ with a child or teen can seem a harrowing task. Below you will find a few conversation starters you might try the next couple of days. Remember you might be surprised by the response but you should try not to be negative nor judgemental. Should that surprise (which can actually be good) happen, a positive way to understand the response better is to ask ‘can you tell me more about that?’ or ‘what makes that important to you?’. Digging a bit deeper just might bring a smile to your face and warmth to you heart.

New Years Conversation Starters

  • What word describes the last year for you?
  • What word do you think will describe the next year?
  • What is your educational goal for this year?
  • What are you most proud of in the past year?
  • If you had the power to change something in the past year what would it be? Why?
  • What was the best advice you had last year?
  • What you do in the new year that will help make the world a better place to live?
  • Did anything inspire you last year?
  • What was your favorite memory of last year?
  • What is one thing you really want to do in the coming year?

For a nice set of 220 free questions you can print on index cards visit the Balancing Beauty and Bedlam website.

Happy New Year!

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