Dinner Discussions (and a Freebie!)

Dinnertime in our house can be a rushed affair. We often head out the door for one of the girls' practices right after the meal or we eat late because we went to practice before dinner. Some nights we eat in shifts. On rare occasions, we declare a movie night and eat in front of the TV.

On any night, it's easy to rush through dinner and not get into much discussion. Some nights I'm tired. Some nights the girls are in a bad mood. Some nights all my husband wants to do is read the paper while we eat. But I've found when we make a concerted effort to sit down to a meal together and create conversation, we enjoy each others' company and we often leave the table knowing something we didn't know before.

In our house, sometimes the standard "What did you do today?" question doesn't elicit much in the way of information. "Went to school" or "the same thing we normally do" are the standard answers from my girls. Unless something really exciting happened during the day, that question doesn't offer much in the way of return. However, when we get creative with our questions -- "What was the best thing that happened to you today?" "Did you help anyone today?" "What made you happy today?" -- we start to get results.

Our kids need us to be involved in their lives. They need to know that we care about them. Even when they don't act like they want to talk with us, they really do want us to know what's going on. Sometimes attacking the conversation from a different direction yields better results. Sometimes a fun conversation can turn serious, giving us great insight into how our kids think. Sometimes a little laughter is all that is needed to get your kids to begin to open up. Different tactics can often give us better results. Colossians 4:6 says "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

What does it mean to have graceful conversation, seasoned with salt? And how does that affect how we relate to our kids? It means our words should offer grace, not judgment. We should be wise and offer love and understanding when we speak. Yet, we should speak the truth, even when it's difficult. The salt is the tough things that we need to talk about -- confronting others when needed and offering correction. When we have this type of conversation with our kids, we are helping them to know that we love them, and we are helping them to grow to be more like Jesus.

Creating avenues to have important conversations with your kids isn't always easy, so today I'm starting a new feature on the blog called "Dinner Discussions." Each month, I'll post enough discussion questions for your family to use one each night during the month. Some months they will be themed around a topic. Other months, they'll simply be random questions. Some questions will be funny, some serious and some completely random. The goal is to get your family talking. You may be surprised at the path some of your conversations take.

So, let's get started. Click this link and print out your Dinner Discussion cards. Cut them apart, stick them in a jar, a bowl or even a hat and leave them on your kitchen table. Each night, pull out a new card and start your dinner discussion. Check back on the first of every month for a new set of cards.

I'd love to hear how your dinner discussions are going, so be sure to pop back in and let me know about where your conversations are taking your family. I'll be checking in with you during the month via our Facebook page, offering some insights from our own dinner discussions.

Happy discussing!

Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows.