Family dinner has become a part of our regular routine since the girls and I got our own house. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a mood or they aren’t hungry we are going to sit down together. I’m not perfect it doesn’t happen every night but we strive for 4-5 night a week. Some weeks we do it every week night and sometimes we are lucky to get a meal or two in but it’s something that has become important to all of us.
Our dinner conversation is so random and usually wildly inappropriate. My parenting style is a direct reflection of our family dinners I let them be kids, theirselves, without judgment or expectations on how they should behave when at home. They have to act appropriately in so many situations throughout the day they should be able to just be them at home. I want them to feel safe and accepted as they are. We aren’t going to be pretty and proper dinner companions and I’m so ok with that. The dinner table has become a place where everyone can feel heard. A place where you can check in and let everyone know what amazing things are happening in your life and what you hate, need to work on, need help with, or what joe blow said to you in 6th period that really pissed you off. We do what we call “positives and negatives”. Everyone gets a turn and no one gets a pass. With 6, 7, sometimes 8 people this little round table of ours, ADHD, and the comments from the peanut gallery we use up the majority of our time making sure everyone gets a turn. If you’re visiting, guess what…you join in. It’s not an optional activity. The only rule is you have to name at least one positive. One positive thing that you experienced that day. If you have 10, awesome, let’s hear it! Negatives are not required but if you’re struggling this is the place where you let it go and feel heard. I’ve found it’s so easy to focus on all the negativity in our brain and in our lives that we forget to be grateful for and see the positive side of things. I wanted the threefold to not get so caught up in the negativity and start looking at the better side of life. At first, I got a lot of push back. It was like pulling teeth to get them to list just one good thing but the negatives were listed in long winded releases of frustration. Now that we are more focused on finding positives so we have some at dinner to speak about our positive lists are growing and some days we even get to say NO to negatives. It’s been a great way to get everyone talking and listening.
Aside from our positive and negative discussion, we laugh so hard at dinner. We pick at each other. We talk about the most insanely inappropriate things. Here lately, my oldest daughter’s sex life seems to be a particularly favorite for everyone to focus on. Her poor boyfriend. He is just along for the ride most nights, but a really good sport about it. The things a mother shouldn’t know, I know. (If you are appalled that my 17 year old is doing the dirty I do beg you to recall your former years and remember you were a walking, talking hormone too. We take all the precautions. Thanks for your concern.) Sexuality is a big one. Politics, lady cycles, religion, death, murder, mental health honestly nothing is off the table it’s actually laid all across that kitchen table. If you can’t take a joke or handle a snarky comment thrown your way we won’t be saving you a seat. Anything you could possibly not want to hear at the dinner table you would hear it at my house. I’m ok with it. In fact, I’m an open participant and encourage it. If they can’t have real talk at home with their mom and siblings or with their significant other then who can they talk to it about? Do they say some rather embarrassing and cringeworthy things? Absolutely, but it also promotes dialogue and honesty, acceptance and validation. I’m from the what feels like the minority of people these days that think kids should be able to express themselves and feel love and acceptance of their authentic selves. I don’t believe in putting these unrealistic or cookie cutter expectations on my kids. My job as a parent is to love them unconditionally for who they are not who I want them to be. We’ll keep the real talk round table and all of the topics of discussion that are brought to it. It is one of my favorite parts of having my threefold, they always keep things interesting!