Did you know kids who have dinner around the table with their family at least 5 times a week are less likely to use drugs and alcohol? There's a great community resource Parents Empowered (www.parentsempowered.org) that has lots of great stuff on how to talk to your kids about the dangers of using. Now, from personal experience I know that having dinner together often isn't a for sure method for keeping your kids off drugs, but we will all admit that time together as a family is important, bonds siblings to each other and to parents and creates time to concentrate on relationships. So at our house we have dinner nearly every night, together. Granted my kids aren't running off in 1000 different directions yet, but someday they will. So I know the better prepared I am in having dinner ready, the better chance we all get at least 30 minutes of open communication around the table together.
Each night we have the "family dinner question." Each person gets a turn during the week to ask a question. It doesn't have to be serious, just interesting. Here's a list of some we've used.
1. If you could have dinner with 3 people living, or dead, who would they be and why?
2. What's the one thing you'd bring if we had to leave right now?
3. What's your favorite animal?
4. What's your favorite scripture story?
5. Who is one person who has influenced you?
6. Besides family, food and shelter, what are you most grateful for?
7. Name one place you want go before you die.
8. What is something you like to study?
9. If you live on a deserted island, that magically had life sustaining necessities, what 3 items would you need to survive?
10. Name a quote from your favorite movie.
11. What's one thing you want to accomplish in life?
12. What attributes do you admire in others?
13. Name one great thing about everyone at the table.
14. What's one thing you can teach others?
15. If you were to introduce yourself at an awards ceremony, what would you say?
16. Name one good thing about today, and one bad thing.
We are often surprised at the kids' answers. Our son told us the other day his favorite animal was "for sure NOT a fart bug." Fart bug? Really? We'll I'm glad for that! These conversation starters are the cement holding our family's foundation together. We learn that our kids do listen to us sometimes, that we share common likes and dislikes, some of us are right brained, and others definitely left brained. We talk about things that have happened during the day and find solutions to problems. It has been such a great experience for us.
It is my hope that as they grow up and the answers and questions get more difficult, that this experience will help them know they can come to us with anything, and although we may not agree with every decision they make, they have a safe place to go when they need it.
Try it around your table; you never know what you may learn.