When I was growing up, the family ate evening meals together.
I always thought it was just because it was easier to have everyone sit down at one time and eat and get it over with and get on with the rest of the evening. For me, that meant going back outside to play baseball with the boys since there weren't any girls living nearby out in the country.
I am an observer of my kids and grandkids now, and they live a very different lifestyle. The grandkids are chauffeured to so many sports activities, music lessons, dance lessons, there isn't time for the family to be together. What the heck is that???????
Some enterprising people are providing help by encouraging conversation. I found two similar products, there are probably many more. A box of cards is placed at the dinner table and as a family member picks a card, it asks a question or in some helps start a discussion, thus encouraging interaction among the family members.
The first graphic in this post is from tabletopics.com, this particular photo is of the Family Edition:
"TableTopics Family Edition was created to encourage family connection around the dinner table. From silly to thought-provoking, the questions delve into family history and opinions to achieve a mix that's fun for everyone. At the dinner table, bedtime, or in the car, kids love to talk about what they think. And if you talk with your kids now, chances are they'll talk with you later. TableTopics Family will help get the conversation going."
The second graphic is from Food For Talk:
"Food for Talk is a recipe box filled with 200 cards designed to initiate and stimulate the dinner hour, helping parents and children connect on a deeper level by sharing feelings, values and experiences.Can you believe, I am actually going to purchase one of each for my kids and their families for a Christmas gift!! Maybe it will even come in handy for their Thanksgiving dinner next year and a few Sunday dinners between now and then.
Each night, someone in the family picks one card and reads it aloud. Give everyone ample time to think and then go around the table one-by-one, letting the children answer first (helps them not just mimic mom and dad’s response). Set some important boundaries and manners, such as listen politely and no interruptions, criticisms or distractions. Parents and children will start learning about each other’s thoughts, feelings and values, resulting in a deeper sense of trust, respect and mutual friendship."