Monday, 27 September 2010

Build Family Ties with Simple Suppers

We all know that the family meal is part of the fabric that keeps families together. It helps cement the bonds between parents and children and between brothers and sisters. As the family grows and the children inevitably grow up and become people in their own right it becomes increasingly harder to maintain these bonds. Dinner at my Sister's house, although a hectic occasion, really is the quintessential family supper, good food and good conversation and plenty of both! a real pleasure.

But it is easier said than done, there are hundreds of excuses and circumstances that make this simple act of sharing a meal together so difficult. Busy lives are often to blame, long working days, hectic social lives (that's the kid's that is!) after school clubs etc etc. It comes a point when you have to book an appointment with your own family!

So you make your demands and ensure every one will be present and correct for supper, you squeeze in a slot between swimming lessons and the next lot of Scouts only to be faced with a table full of silence. So how is it done around my Sister's dinning room table?

Well it's the simplest exercise ever. They each take it in turns (and that's every one, Mum, Dad, Children, their friends and guests) to answer two simple questions.

"What did I learn today?" and "What did I enjoy most?"

and that's it! - it creates a structure to help everyone think of something to say and contribute to the conversation, and from that it opens up a myriad of channels for discussion. All topics personal to the people around that table, every one is involved, every one has the chance to comment and what's more every one gets the chance to be listened to.

Try it for yourselves, whether you are sitting down to a plate of beans on toast or a gourmet supper, whether you have a large family or just sitting down to eat with a friend, you will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to make the conversation flow and you might just learn a bit more about your nearest and dearest too.