“Mom, what’s for dinner?” asked my son.
“Pizza,” I responded.
“Ooh, can we play the pizza game while we eat?”
We have a pizza board game that is designed for families to play together while eating pizza. It encourages family conversation and fun interaction during dinner time. It is filled with conversation starters, games, and activities and gets everyone talking and laughing together. We’ve even brought the game with us to our local pizza restaurant to play there while we enjoyed our favorite pie.
With the pace of life always set at top speed, families struggle to slow down and connect with one another. Parents are pulled in separate directions as they take turns driving one child to one activity and an another to a different one. The tradition of families eating and talking together is like those grainy black and white photos of the past, nostalgic but not something we desire to return to.
But as Christian parents, we’ve been tasked with the roll of shepherding and guiding our children to know and love God. It is in our homes where the truths of the gospel should always be on our lips as we point our children to Christ and teach them of who they are because of what he has done. Our homes also need to be a place where our children can talk with us about the hard questions of faith, their sins and weaknesses, the heartaches of life, and the trials they endure.
Because of that, it is important that we establish rhythms of talking and relating in our homes. We need to make open communication the expected and anticipated way we interact as a family. We need to be intentional about talking with our children about what is going on in their hearts and lives.
One of the ways to do that is to make talking together fun and engaging. Games and other activities make conversing seem less like an interview. And family meal time is an ideal time and place to do just that. There are many conversation starters and games out there that encourage families to talk with one another. But we can also create our own and design them to encourage discussion about deeper things. Here are two ways to make your own conversation starters:
1. Create a board game: Using poster board, draw out a path of squares all around the border of the poster board. Mark a starting line and finishing line. Talk together as a family about a fun and unique name to give your game. Decorate the board to reflect this name.
Then, on a stack of 3×5 cards, write down a series of questions, conversation topics, and fun challenges to do. It’s nice to mix up deep probing questions with fun physical challenges. Include questions about what your children might be learning in church or in family devotions. Use the game as an opportunity to help them think through and apply spiritual truths they are learning in God’s word.
Then roll dice and take turns advancing forward along the squares, taking a card at each turn and responding to what is written on the card. Whoever gets to the finish line first is the winner.
2. Make a Conversation starter jar: You may have seen conversation starter cards that you buy. Why not make your own? Write down a list of questions and conversation topics and cut them out into strips of paper. Decorate the outside of a glass jar or some other container and put the strips of paper inside and place it on the dinner table. When the family is gathered together for meals, take turns pulling out a strip of paper and answering the question. Need help getting started? For a free printable of conversation starter questions, click here.
Do you have any creative ideas to encourage deeper conversation in your family? I’d love for you to share!