May I be Excused?
Family meal times are important. Or so my own parents drilled into me when I was a kid. This is conventional wisdom, rarely debated.
Now that I'm a dad, I get it. It's one of the ways families are supposed to stay in touch and remain somewhat relevant to each other, at least for a few moments before we go back to our respective overscheduled lives.
All fine and good in theory. But here's how a lot of our dinner conversations used to go:
Dad: So, Leo, how was your day today?
Dad: What did you do?
Dad (patience tank springing a slight leak): Seriously, did you not do anything memorable today?
Leo: Good. Good. Good.
Dad: Fine. Be that way.
(Silence. Chewing. More silence.)
Leo: May I be excused?
In my recent reading, I came across a great technique the article called 'high low high' that does a great job of improving the quality of our conversations. (Regrettably, I can't find the original article to link to, but others have previously documented the same trick.)
Anyway, here's how it works. We take turns, going around the table, recounting:
- A high point from our day
- A low point from our day
- Another high point from our day
Simple as that. For some reason, this structure gamifies the conversation and it suddenly becomes fun for Leo.
We've found that not only does it get everyone talking about something meaningful, it also lets us share in each others' successes, or empathize on challenges we're facing.
Leo's so into this now that he's usually the one who initiates.
So I'm very pleased to report that meal times are much more fun for us these days. Have you tried something like this? How has it worked for your family?