From soccer practice to late night meetings, finding time to spend together is a challenge facing most families today. But family meals provide an occasion for making daily connections and strengthening family bonds.

Family dinners can be a part of the day that everyone looks forward to with this “Cooking Up Conversation” guide giving you ideas for conversations that your family will enjoy.

Children whose parents are actively involved in their lives are more likely to stay motivated in school, develop positive eating habits and avoid drugs and alcohol. In order to connect as a family, rituals must be established, maintained and enjoyed. Family dinners offer a great opportunity to start establishing a ritual that the whole family can enjoy and look forward to.

In fact, a recent survey found that talking together was the most important family activity for both parents (80 percent) and kids (65 percent). And parents and kids both said they’d like to discuss topics beyond their daily activities, such as hopes for the future and other interests.

To help get your family discussions started, here are a variety of questions to help spark fun conversation. You could write each topic on a small sheet of paper and drop them into a bowl. Once dinner has been served, take turns pulling a slip of paper from the bowl and reading the question. You can decide if one family member will answer the question, or if the whole family answers the same question. Here goes:

• What food would you never give up eating?

• What’s your favorite winter memory?

• If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

• What other country would you choose to live in? Why?

• Where would you take a foreign exchange student to “show off” your hometown?

• Which of your teachers will you remember forever? Why?

• What would you do if you got lost in a big city?

• What skill do you have that nobody knows about?

• If you owned a store, what would you sell?

• What one word would you use to describe yourself? Why?

• What would you like to be famous for someday?

• Describe your dream job.

• Name something that you would like to learn to do someday.

• If you could have three famous friends, who would they be?

• Do you have any superstitions?

• If you could think up a new invention for homework, what would it be?

• If you could trade places with someone else for a month, who would you choose? Why?

• Which would you choose: being able to fly or being able to be invisible?

• How long could you go without watching television?

• What’s the best book you’ve ever read? Why did you like it so much?

• What is your favorite thing to do that doesn’t cost money?

• What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

• What is the best way to apologize to someone?

• What makes a good loser? Are you one?

Have fun with your family at the dinner table — talk to each other — learn about each other. The rewards will pay off in many ways and your children will have some great memories of meals with the family.

Source — National Pork Board

The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Texas Cooperative Extension is implied. Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin. For more information, call your Rockwall County Extension Office — 972-882-0375.

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