Although we’re living in times in which we’re supposedly more “connected” than ever, the real question is whether or not were actually making any real connections. Let’s face it, there’s only so much conversation you can have via text message.
Is it any wonder that we have so many family and societal problems these days when we’re spending so much time apart? Even when a family is together, they’re really not. Road trips often find everyone plugged into their own iPod, video game, or portable DVD player. And it’s not unusual for everybody to be watching television at once — but each from a separate room in the house. But let’s say you can get your family to turn off the TV, unplug their iPods and give the video games a break…what do you actually talk about?
“How was school today?” gets old pretty fast.
If your family is used to being “together but not,” striking up meaningful conversation can be awkward, uncomfortable, and fruitless. Fleeing back to the safe haven of “the way things were” is pretty tempting. But this awkward stage is only a temporary transition to forming a new — healthier — habit. Here are a few tips for taking the guesswork out of engagement and jumpstarting the conversation.
One of our favorite ways to get kids of all ages to talk about their day without having to ask the dreaded, “How was school today?” question is to play Two Truths and a Lie. On the way home from school or around the dinner table, have everyone share three things that happened that day. Two should be true and one should be false. Everyone else has to try and figure out which one is the lie. Kids love trying to stump their siblings and parents, and it’s a somewhat sneaky way to learn more about what’s important to your kids and what’s going on in their lives.
Another cool resource is something we just added to the Lemonade Stand: Chat Pack. It’s a clear, compact case that contains 156 stylized cards, each one featuring a question that’s guaranteed to get people talking like nothing else can. It’s great entertainment for ages 6 to 106.
In our early days of schlepping greeting cards at trade shows, we met Bret and Paul, aka The Question Guys, and the creators of Chat Pack. They really have a heart for bringing people together and and resurrecting the long lost art of conversation. Here are some sample questions:
If you could have 50 pounds of anything other than money, what would you want most of all?
If you were on an African safari, what would you absolutely have to see for your trip to be complete?
If you had to change your first name, what would you choose as your new name?
What is something you really enjoy doing that is chore or a bore for many people?
If you could bring to life any fictional character from a book or movie, whom would you choose?
Not only does Chat Pack provide great sparks for starting family conversations in the car or around the dinner table, it’s also ideal for dinner parties, business meetings, classroom activities, and hostess gifts. It’s a great way to get people talking, bring them closer together, and create memories you’ll remember forever.
Both Two Truths and a Lie and Chat Pack take the thinking out of starting conversations, which should be especially welcome if your previous efforts felt a lot like pulling teeth. And anything that can help foster real connections between family members gets a gold star in our book!
So how about you? What are your favorite “tricks” for getting your family talking?
Our family likes to use a method that we learned at Family Camp. Near the end of every day at camp, each family has time alone for “Family Sharing.” This is a really informal time where each person in the family has a chance to answer three questions What was your high point today? What was your low point today? What was your closest moment to God today? Everyone takes a turn and can answer one, two, or three of these at his or her own level. It is such a great way to connect at Camp that we have brought it home and used these questions over many, many dinners, car rides, bedtimes, whenever we want to connect. These three little questions have been great for our family. When our daughter went away to college, she even instituted nightly “Roommate Sharing,” using these same three questions.
Belinda — very good method. Thanks for sharing; your comment just made this post that much more useful! I love how it can be used for a variety of ages and faith perspectives.
Libby M. says
This is my rant lately…too much texting, too much facebook, too much Ipod, too much tv…doesn’t anybody want to have a real conversation any more? Thank you for the great ideas!
Thanks, Libby. Yep, there’s a lot of too much going on these days. My hope is that people will start to see the magic of “less
We think there is way to much “screen time” in our lives. So one way we combat it is to pull out board and card games. In doing so, years ago we discovered a whole new world outside of games that you get at Walmart. Check out a local game store and you’ll see a whole new world of fun.
Our family started doing video reviews of some of the games we really enjoy playing together – http://www.TheBoardGameFamily.com
Nothing can beat spending time together as a family. That’s where the bonds that last are forged. You love what you spend time with. So if you want to love your family, then take the time to be with them. And not just in the same room watching a screen, but talking and enjoying laughter.
Thanks for sharing your site, Trent; what a great resource!