What’s unusual about this photo is that the parents and children are all sitting down at a table to eat.
Tables have been around almost since the beginning of time, what changed? The notion that we need to be entertained while we eat as opposed to communicating while we eat.
I’ve been fortunate to be a witness to many cultures all over the world. I’ve seen family values in the poorest of homes and in opulent palaces. The only difference between these two settings is the setting.
Questions immediately arise when people find out that I’ve learned a few things about the culture of others. Americans want to know if others do things differently. The answer is YES. The simple act of eating in nearly every country is communication.
Communication implies that something was said and something was heard but that’s not all, it also implies understanding.
Try sitting down with your children at dinner. Instead of asking Yes or No questions like how was school, ask open-ended questions. Here are some discussion starters to think about.
- Father, “I saw that someone was arrested for shoplifting.” What are your thoughts about people that take other peoples belongings?
- Mother, “I do a lot of our collective laundry every week. What would happen, how would you feel if I didn’t do laundry for say 2 weeks? Tell me how that might affect you and what you would do about it.”
I recognize that some would say, “Those are sexist questions based on the person asking the questions. I’m sorry, I’m going for reality, not political correctness.
The point of those two questions is to draw out a response. Let me be real clear; we can tell someone don’t touch that it’s hot, and when they touch it they realize THEY know it. It’s not just something someone said, they own it. IT IS HOT.
When we discuss principles and values, the goal is to get children to understand by ultimately owning what they “now believe.”
It’s a process
In the coming weeks and months, I’m going to further discuss issues surrounding the topic of family communications.
Until next time . . .