Each week, The Huffington Post presents a compelling topic to spark discussion at your dinner table.
March is Women’s History Month. The National Women’s History Project has declared the theme for 2013 to be “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” One hundred years ago on March 3, 1913, a group of women marched in Washington, D.C., to demand their right to vote. Ultimately, they won with the passage of the nineteenth amendment.
Tonight, let’s talk about the progress we have made toward equality as a society, and the importance of knowing our history.
Questions for discussion:
* Who are some female role models that you look up to?
* Why do you think it took as long as it did for women to get the right to vote?
* What are you doing, in school or as a family, to celebrate Women’s History Month?
I’m a huge fan of using games, word play and conversation starters to get the discussion going at the dinner table. Here are some of my favorites:
1. The Pet Peeve and Idiosyncrasy game. This is a sure fire way to get everyone chatting at the table. First, be sure to define and differentiate between “Pet Peeves” (annoyances) and “Idiosyncrasies” (any personal peculiarity or mannerism). It’s fun to debate the subtle difference with your family! Once you’ve done this, go around the table and ask each person to name a pet peeve and one of their idiosyncrasies. (You can do them as separate rounds or together.) And as an addendum, if your family has a good sense of humor and they aren’t sensitive types, you can play a version of the game where you name one another’s idiosyncrasies and pet peeves. (Believe me, they know more of your quirks than you do!)
2. Something I Like About Myself. This one is pretty self explanatory! And it’s really easy to get the little ones at the table talking. A version of this game is saying something that you like about the person to your right and go around the table. Try to be creative!
3. Highs and Lows. This one is a classic. Everyone goes around the table and says the high point of their day and the low point. It’s a great way to hear about what happened at school or practice that day without the usual “how was your day, honey?” “Fine.” conversation! The Obamas play a version of this game that they call “Rose and Thorn.”
4. Would You Rather… I have a whole list of these hypothetical questions in The Family Dinner book (Would you rather jump in a cold pool or do an extra hour of homework? Would you rather go bowling or shopping for pants?) And it’s fun to have everyone come up with their own as well.
Let us know. What works at your table to get the conversation going?
As we say, dinner is as much about the conversation as it is about healthy, delicious food. But it’s not always easy for families to open up and talk to each other. That’s where table games come in.
Remember, it’s not always necessary to have deep, revealing conversations with each other. Just talk, about anything, and have fun! Here are a couple of story game suggestions to get your table talking:
Here’s a great idea for a game you can play at the family dinner table. The Laughing Game. Everyone laugh like Mom. Everyone laugh like Dad. Everyone laugh like… who’s next?
For more great family dinner ideas and recipes, check out “The Family Dinner” book.
Chapter Two in The Family Dinner book presents “Ten Simple Steps to Successful Family Dinners.” A couple of those rules can be quickly summarized thus: “No Screens!”
No Phones: Do not answer the phone at dinner. Do not allow any cellphones at the table. No ringing, vibrating, answering, or texting allowed. If someone does bring their phone, take it away for as long as you decide to keep it. That will teach them to leave it elsewhere next time.
No Television: Of course, that also includes any electronic device like computers, iPads, Kindles, game devices, etc. Your kids will argue they can do three things at the same time (watch TV, eat, and listen closely to your every word, maybe even IM, too!), but it doesn’t matter.
As with all the rules in Chapter Two, pay no attention to the complaining. It’s just human nature to resist. Your job is to insist! Enforcement must apply to everyone (even Mom and Dad).
It’s important to talk to one another as a family at the table, as it may be one of the few times during the day you are all together. Modern technology may provide great tools for communication, education and entertainment. But at the family dinner table, it’s all just distraction.