If your family's like most, gathering everyone around the table for mealtime requires monumental effort. But Christian and secular experts on the family agree: the payoff is huge. Children who eat with their family at least three times a week are less likely to get involved with drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity. They get better grades and have a stronger bond with their parents than kids who eat on their own. To get your kids talking at the table, try these conversation starters:
- Ask each person to say three nice things about everyone at the table, including themselves.
- Have family members talk about something that happened to them that day. Choose a category for each meal: Something surprising, silly, embarrassing, exciting, scary, or something that they're proud of.
- Pretend you're all at a party, then take turns playing host and introducing each person to the rest of the family. For example, the host might say, "This is Molly. She's a terrific gymnast," or "This is Haley. She's a great listener."
- Ask one person to come up with five adjectives describing someone else at the table, then say them slowly, one at a time, while the rest of you try to guess who is being described. The first person with the right answer gets the next turn.
- Allow time during your dinner prayer for family members to make prayer requests. What your child prays about is a wonderful gauge of where his heart is and what's most important in his life. Ask follow-up questions when you're done with your prayers.
- Remember to include yourself in the discussion. Dinnertime is not only a great time to stay in touch with your children, it's also an opportunity to let them hear about how you're living out your faith in the world as well.
Copyright © 2003 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian Parenting Today magazine.
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