I get that question a lot. While many families no longer force their children to eat (hooray!), they might require them to stay at the table until everyone is done. Except they fail at actually getting them to stay.
Do you demand attendance at the table until the end of the meal? If you’ve ever found yourself yelling, “This is family time, damn it, and we are all going to sit here and love one another even if it kills us! Now get your butt back on your chair!” – read on!
I love the idea of family meal time, and I think it’s important to “break bread” together. But forcing children to stay at the table will not achieve that happy family time you aspire to create. Instead, you’ll get whining, moaning and other misbehavior that sabotages your efforts. We don’t want to invite power struggles.
Instead of making attendance mandatory, I suggest you excuse anyone who wants to leave, and then work to create a fabulous family dinner atmosphere that attracts your children to come back or to stay. Stop harping on about what they are eating and the crap that happened at school. Instead, “socialize.” It’s a dinner party!
Can you stop the parenting long enough to just enjoy the company of your children? That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Here are some ideas for questions that you can use to get the conversation rolling. I promise you’ll draw a crowd with these:
1. What is your all-time favorite movie and why does it have special meaning for you?
2. What is your favorite book? What in it has personal meaning for you?
3. What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
4. What is the silliest thing you have ever done?
5. What is something you hate to do? What do you hate about it?
6. If you could be a super hero or fictional hero/heroine, who would you be? Why?
7. Do you like your name? If not, what would pick instead?
8. How do you feel about nicknames? Know any good ones? What would you pick for yourself? Why?
These are just a few ideas to replace the old, “Do you have homework tonight?” or, “When are you going to write that thank-you card to Grandma for your birthday present?” Gee, I’d be running from you, too!
If you already have a good dinner table vibe going, share with others what makes it happen for you.
About the Author:
Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine. Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”. She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com. – See more at: http://blog.mabelslabels.com/#sthash.XCCr1HJO.dpuf