Family dinner conversations flow with the casserole to cement a family together like few other activities.
Meg Conley, a writer for the Huffington Post, focuses on topics related to raising children. A recent article of hers inspired me. In it, she shared a practice she and her husband have implemented around family dinners.
In an effort to reconnect each evening, they ask the same three questions at dinner: How were you brave today? How were you kind today? And how did you fail today?
As they consider “How were you brave today?” Conley hopes her daughters will begin to lay down a history of their own capacity for facing up to hard things. She writes that she hopes “this question teaches them to recognize their own valor so that by the time they really need it, courage is an old and familiar friend.”
Like most parents, Conley and her husband also highly value their children’s learning to be kind, recognizing that cruelty is a fact of life and that no one of us is immune to it. They ask their kids “How were you kind today?” because they want their children to be “not only human, but also humane.” “Kindness is a strength,” Conley writes, “and I am expecting my girls to flex it like a muscle every single day.”
Their final question is my favorite: “How did you fail today?” Too often, we parents focus on our children’s success to the point that lots of kids grow up thinking this is the only news fit to share, hiding their failures like peas shoved under the placemat. But our failures offer up our very best lessons, starting with a healthy dose of humility. Conley writes that her family cheers over their failures every night, mining them for good ideas about how to do better.
Mom and Dad also answer these questions every night, much to their daughters’ delight. This sharing enables their daughters to capture a glimpse of adults still growing as they mindfully reflect on each day’s events.
However you spend your time with the family gathered at your table, this thoughtful model may inspire you to ask some questions of your own devising. Whatever the questions, the answers supplied may turn even the simplest supper into a family feast.