Dinner conversation? “What’s that?” some families might ask jokingly. We all know that families benefit from eating meals together. But simply eating food might not provide all the nourishment we need. In addition to essential nutrients, we need to participate together in good, bonding conversation. So if your family tends to talk about the weather or enter heated discussions at dinnertime, you might want to steer the conversation in a better direction.
Try asking better, more thoughtful questions or conversation starters. You might, for instance, get just yes or no answers if you ask the obvious, such as: How was work/school today? Instead, try an open-answer approach: What was your favorite thing today? To help families mix up dinnertime discussions, I’ve created a list of 40 conversation starters, or feel free to add or create your own. Then just print, clip, and share. Put the slips of paper in a jar, and keep them handy at the dinner table. Think of it as a family game; you might even call it Table Talk.
Questions to Ask at the Dinner Table
What was your favorite thing today and why?
Who did you help today? Tell us about it.
What was something interesting that you learned today? Could you teach us?
What challenges did you experience today? How did you handle them? Or what kind of help do you need to resolve them?
What did you have for lunch today? What’s your favorite lunch? Have you eaten any protein, fruits, or vegetables today?
How did schoolwork or a project go today? Tell us about it.
What television program, video game, or website did you view today? What did you learn from it, or what part did you like best?
What book are you reading right now? What’s the best part so far?
What’s your favorite church song or any kind of music? Why?
What’s your favorite scripture? Why do you like it? What have you learned from it?
If you could be anyone in the world, who would you be? Choose someone who’s alive and tell us why.
Whom do you admire who is dead? Why are they a role model for you?
If you had $1 million, what would you do with it? Discuss as a family several options for what could be done with the money.
If you could take two friends on a dream vacation, who would you choose, and where would you go?
If you could learn about anything that you don’t already know, what would it be? What can you do to study this topic?
What is your number 1 goal this week? Month? Year?
Given free time, what do you choose to do? What do you love about this activity?
What is a skill that you would love to learn? How can you get started?
Has someone been rude to you recently? How did you handle the situation?
What’s the polite way to answer the telephone or front door?
What do you know about table manners? Encourage other family members to help with this one.
How do you show respect for someone? Can you tell us an example?
Do you know of anyone who needs help? How can we help them individually or as a family?
Name a grandparent or ancestor. What do you know about them? Where were they born? What did they like to do? What was their occupation? How many children did they have? How old were they when they died? How did they die?
Whoever draws this one gets to choose someone at the table to interview. Find out what their favorite things are. Colors, books, hobbies, etc.
What’s your most favorite chore? Least favorite? Why?
What’s your favorite dessert? Favorite main dish? Other favorite foods?
If you could be a famous movie star or sports star, who would you be? Why?
What is your dream job? Please describe.
What is something you would like others in the family to do for you?
If you could write a best-selling book, what would it be about? What would you call it?
If you could be any kind of animal, which would you be? Why?
If you could make a YouTube video, what would you do? Who would be in it?
What is the best gift you have ever received or given? Why? What does it mean to you?
When you’re feeling sad, what’s the one thing that will always cheer you up? Why?
What makes you feel angry or sad? What makes you feel happy or content? What can family members do to support those feelings?
What makes you feel loved or unloved? How can we show love for one another?
If you have negative thoughts, what can you do to think positively instead? Share examples.
If a friend is in trouble or asks you to keep a secret that you shouldn’t, what should you do? Discuss some options as a family.
How can you live your best life? What are good choices you can make every day?
These are some of the dinner conversation starters our family likes to use?
What are some of your family’s favorites?