Do you have teenage children who don’t talk to you? Do they immediately go to their rooms, keep their ear buds on, and interact with their phones rather than their parents and siblings?
Do you have younger children who come home and answer your thoughtful questions about the day with one word answers? Is it a trial to get more information about what is going on with them?
I am here to say that daily family dinners will help communication in your family. When I was growing up, there were two rules: We all ate dinner together and food was only allowed in the kitchen (where there was no TV). This helped foster conversation and helped keep our house clean. Since it worked out well for my family, my husband and I enforced the same rules with our children. Even when the older one came home late from cross country practice and the younger one came home late from the crew practice at the river, they were happy to have a meal ready and people to talk to when they came home. We did not ask too many questions about school. Just sitting together every evening brought out conversation about school, friends, problems, and current events. Even if much of our time throughout the day was spent running around to activities and events and doing homework, we had our family dinners. Even if our children preferred to be in their rooms, we still had that family time every evening.
Conversations and issues brought up at dinner could be continued. The two other best times I found for getting our children to talk to us were in the car (captive audience) and at bed time. I never minded driving them around to activities and driving back and forth to school (an inconvenient nine miles away) because car talk brought us together.
We started getting ready for bed an hour early to fit in horsy rides, reading time, and kissing them goodnight, a sliver of time that often brought up important topics to discuss.
We discovered that to get our kids to talk to us, we just needed to hang around together on a daily basis. The rewards of this approach were long lasting. I believe our children, now grown, feel free to talk to us about most things, which keeps us close and gives me peace of mind that they are making the right choices.
Remember, parents are their children’s role models and advisers throughout childhood, teenage years, and even adulthood. Even in their 80’s, my parents and I are tight – those family dinners paid off!