Is there anything more delightful than sitting down to dinner with your family? Even if you’re having something as pedestrian as grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, the company and conversation can be joyous and memorable. (It can be otherwise as well, but we won’t discuss that!)
One of the major goals I had as our boys grew up was to make our dinner table a place of peace and fellowship. We tried to steer the conversation to interesting topics to which most of the boys could contribute. This was fairly limited when they were small, but the range of topics increased dramatically when the oldest two started reading.
It was important to us to teach them not to speak ill of others, so we focused on discussing ideas, rather than people. This opened the door to many interesting conversations about history, literature, art, music, faith, and other things that matter, and kept minds away from pettiness and foolish talk. It helped a lot that our oldest son was fascinated by history and classical music, and could contribute a lot of interesting knowledge to our discussions.
Our dinner-time conversations were far from perfect at times, but because we consistently tried to cultivate these habits of communication, it was definitely better than it could have been. With no squabbling allowed at the table, they had to either learn to communicate courteously or be quiet! Now that they are pretty much grown, we still enjoy dinner table conversations that are interesting and generally respectful of one another. Although there were times when they were small when I wondered whether it would ever happen, I have reached the point where I’d rather have them around my table than anyone else in the world!