My Kids Don't Talk at Dinner
I can't get my girls to talk to me at the dinner table. They are gabbing on their phones constantly but as soon as they sit down at the table, zip. I need some advice. How can I get my girls to talk to me at dinner?
If your girls are old enough to talk on their phones, they are old enough to help improve dinnertime conversation. You might enlist their help by saying something like: These silent dinners feel boring and lonely. How can we make things more fun?
They may roll their eyes, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t intrigued. Try presenting them with various gimmicks: rose and thorn (telling the best and worst thing that happened that day) or coming to the table with a question they have always wanted to ask someone in the family. Or start planning an upcoming family event or trip.
But you will have to take the lead. Tell them about your day, stories about when they were little or even stories about when you were their age. Keep your end of the conversation going, even if you don’t get much initial response. Also keep your ear tuned to things they are interested in. If they are always talking on their phones, you can assume that they are parsing the behaviors of their friends and teachers; hence relationship-obsessed. Come up with some conversational gambits that relate to those obsessions. Present them with moral questions around friendships, loyalty and love.
Go overboard if necessary. Give them an assignment – Who is your favorite person in the extended family, and why? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Make sure there are consequences if they don’t complete the assignment.
They may think you are crazy/cruel/ridiculous, but eventually they will get the idea – we talk at the table. Or, at the very least, they will get the idea that this is important to you, and they may cave to the pressure. Good luck!