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Play with Your Food

Conversation starters to get your teens talking at the table

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.

—Mimi Knight

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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