By Andy Merrett
May 20, 2006
Making the most of mealtimes, and the art of conversation
Jo Ball is “The Stepfamily Coach” but her article, published below, is applicable to any family.
Mealtimes. We know that it’s important for families to eat together, but often they are simply rushed, functional affairs, even if they do involve the whole family.
Jo comes up with some interesting ideas for making mealtimes more sociable.
“I Want To Be Heard!”
A common gripe in a stepfamily is that people feel they’re not being listened to.
We’re all busy and there is often a lot to be communicated in a stepfamily. It’s really important for everyone to have a say and be listened to. Equal amount of airtime can make a huge difference too.
In our family, the after school, evening mealtime is the first time the four of us came together in the day. This means that we all have things to tell each other or ask and, in the past, it often resulted in everyone interrupting and bitty, unfinished conversations.
After eating we’d clear up and put away (our children have always been involved with this) and we’d all leave the kitchen. I often felt frustrated or fed-up at being interrupted and unheard. Most nights I also felt exhausted.
So my partner and I decided to make a few subtle changes. Rather than something that we just wanted to get done and out of the way we made our dinner a more social experience.
We asked them to lay the table, including glasses and a water jug and we decided to serve the food at the table.
To encourage a decent conversation we each wrote on a small piece of paper something that we wanted to talk about over dinner. The paper was folded and placed in a bowl.
Then one by one we pulled out a note and had a conversation about it. We decided we’d go around the table twice to see what everyone thought or felt about the subject then drew the next one out.
It worked wonderfully, having everyone focused on one topic at a time. We had a lovely time. Everyone engaged and felt listened too.
An amazing unexpected benefit also occurred. We found that at the end of clearing up everyone was in less of a rush to get away. We felt like we’d had a enjoyable social experience as a family and were all really contented.
Having the children be involved with things that are happening in the home is a great benefit. If you want to have your children be more involved than they have been be sure to make any changes subtly and gently.
Let them know it’s going to happen in advance and avoid dumping things on them last minute and show respect, by making them feel part of the process when you can, by discussing changes with them before they happen – if they are old enough.
Over to you – how could you use the information in the newsletter to benefit you and your family?
Want more help?
It doesn’t need to be hard going in a stepfamily. You don’t need to feel pulled in every direction or be confused over how to deal with issues that come up. I can help you build strong relationships and a happy home. To find out how visit www.TheStepfamilyCoach.com.
Wishing you a happy month.
About The Author
Jo Ball – The Stepfamily Coach
The Stepfamily Coach offers support and guidance to divorced and separated parents who are blending their family to a new family. Grab your free report “7 Secrets For Blending A Family Without The Stress And Strain” from www.TheStepfamilyCoach.com.