Pat helps run an inspiring and practical blog called: PatandCandy and many bloggers join them for Coffee and Conversation weekly on Wednesdays–so they know a good conversation when they see it and hear it. Here’s what Pat learned at her table to pass down to ours, including her list of “conversation starters.” –Sue
Visitors to my blog these days will see quite a bit about these things:
- Connecting to your kids
- Feeling/expressing gratitude, and
- Shooting for quality time and quality conversation.
It’s very intentional, and here’s why:
Much more is caught than taught when it comes to influencing our kids. Parents have the immense task of not only passing on family values and morals, but also counteracting those that are often picked up in the classroom. Even homeschooling families are not immune: our culture is rife with principles and practices that often cause us to become self-centered, no matter where you hang out, or with whom.
As a young girl, I was raised in the school of “children should be seen and not heard.” Dinnertime conversation centered around discussions between my dad and mom was often political, and frequently critical. Rarely (if ever) do I remember being asked to opine about a topic, and the times I ventured forth with one, well, honestly, I don’t recall much positive engagement.
I’m not looking for pity here, but I am setting the stage. It would be easy for me to replicate that situation around my own table. Especially since I am blessed to have married a man who also enjoys sharing – and waxes eloquently about – his own opinions.
While I, too, have no problem starting or maintaining a conversation over coffee with friends, I know that that is a skill which must be taught or at least fostered intentionally in order for it to be “real” and meaningful.
My favorite table-talk tools:
I’m a fan of the one-conversation concept, an idea I first heard described by Michael Hyatt, where a skilled leader introduces a topic that everyone can contribute to. (Not that any special training is necessary; the “skill” comes with practice!) I’m also a fan of conversation starters: discussion prompts of various types that are shared at the table, which I find in books or resources I’ve found on Amazon.
What I’ve learned through mealtime conversations:
To my delight, combining food and discussion has packed a powerful one-two punch for me over the years.
It was around the table that we discovered our own personal stories: vignettes that we can call up about each other with just a word or short phrase. These have built a powerful sense of identity and closeness between us.
It is also around the table that we catch up on our family calendar; where my husband discovers what’s going on with each of us (his job often requires him to be out of town for a good part of the week). And it is around the table where we share both laughter and frustrations; where I can look around when I am tired and get a word of encouragement from my daughter, or a kind smile from my son; where I can feel a glimpse of the joy and contentment that I anticipate experiencing when I am called Home to spend eternity with my family.
God has certainly used times around the table in different ways over the years. I’m so thankful that through them all, He has been faithful in providing so much more than food to sustain me!
My Favorite “Recipe”
I’m not a fan of using recipes, which is the reason I use quotes around the word “Recipe.” Our version of Taco Salad is a Sunday go-to meal when we’re all home and nobody feels like cooking! Everybody helps prepare the goods, and in no time we’re eating, talking, and laughing together around the table.
1-2 lbs of ground meat, browned, drained and seasoned (I use a homemade mix)
1-2 bags (depending on how many folks will be eating) taco chips (I use the $2 bags)
salsa, sour cream and shredded cheese
The fun “add on’s”
These vary from season-to-season and include:
Blueberries, cut-up strawberries, melon balls, craisins, cucumber slices/cubes, shredded lettuce, nuts, bacon bits, salad sprinkles, croutons, dried onions, cherry tomatoes, and various dressings.
Place all the “add on’s” in bowls, scattered around the table, say a blessing, pass around the chips, the meat, and everything else, and then…dig in! And ask a question or two to get the convo started!
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God
1 Corinthians 10:31