It is no secret that I believe family is the greatest gift we have and should be prioritized as number one. Having a partner and children to cherish is what gives us purpose and fills our hearts with happiness. The importance of family should never be overlooked or taken for granted. Many families share similar family values, but many tend to have different family traditions that make them unique. I recently came across Pam Lamp, the founder of Who I Met Today, and she shared with me a fabulous family tradition that I just love- dinner stories. I am trying out this gem with my own family and it is a really wonderful idea to implement for the new school year!
Start A New Family Tradition: Dinner Stories
Pam Lamp discovers one human story at a time and shares them on her blog. She lives in Nashville with her husband and has two grown sons who will soon have children of their own. Thinking back on their family traditions, she wanted to share one that she thinks helped her sons flourish as they went off to college and entered the adult world- dinner stories. I was not surprised to hear her say this because I have always believed in sitting down together and sharing meals as a family whenever possible and there are lots of statistics to back that up. Her idea of dinner stories is a fun added family tradition that livens up the conversation and makes things more fun! It makes dinner talk topics fun and interesting and always different.
Come To The Table With Stories To Share Over Dinner
by Pam Lamp
After napkins were in laps and plates were filled, I announced a new dinnertime ritual. From now on, all family members must come to dinner prepared to share a story – good or bad – about their day.
Can you imagine the eye rolling from my middle school sons?
Like moms everywhere, I wanted to get it right. Cook healthy meals, read books before bed, listen attentively, encourage messiness and creativity, speak gently at all times…. And, of course, I misstepped on a very regular basis.
As all moms are apt to do, I zeroed-in on my parenting mistakes and those times I didn’t do it well. I was hard on myself.
In a recent conversation with my two millennial sons – one married, both employed, boys who live in other cities but call me just to chat – I asked if they might remember any specific parenting hacks they enjoyed while growing up.
Their response was immediate – our dinner stories.
Although baseball practices and work events and school meetings made it challenging, we tried our hardest to sit down to a family meal each evening. My husband and I asked our boys those routine questions about classes and teachers and activities, and they dutifully filled us in as succinctly as possible.
After Dinner Stories And Jokes
As our boys got older, and their piles of homework grew bigger, our conversations around the table lacked substance. They were predictable. We needed something – a dinner reboot – to make the most of our precious twenty minutes together before everyone scattered to chores and homework and bedtime routines.
In the early days of our storytelling experiment, our kids did not plan or prepare dinner stories. It was obvious, when they had the floor, they were assembling their stories on the fly.
But I persevered, attempting to charm them into cooperation, with my anecdotes about the flexibility of a giraffe’s neck and the materials in a baseball. My husband concentrated on sharing current events related to business – a computer or music story, perhaps.
And then, one night, “Can I go first?” my older son asked. “I have a story.”
I can’t remember what tale he relayed all those years ago, but those stories – a part of our family dinners for almost a decade – kickstarted our dinner conversations and brought our meals back to life. They generated comments and questions and discussion.
Instead of dreading the parental grilling that often – I shamefully admit – began when they pulled out their chairs at the table, our boys relaxed. And talked sharing after dinner stories and jokes.
Thankfully, they are still talking to me, nowadays via a call or text instead of around the dinner table. There is nothing better than listening to my boys’ stories about their lives and jobs and dreams.
And, I’m guessing, if they have kids someday, the dinner stories tradition will continue.
The Big Stuff
Thanks again to Pam Lamp for sharing her fun family tradition of dinner stories.
Pam’s dinner stories tradition reminds me of this quote. Their dinner stories may seem small or strange when they are little but they are important to them and will evolve with time. So if you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff, the conversation dries up. If you are not providing a safe space or being interested in the things that interest them, they will get the message that you don’t want to hear what they have to say. And that will really hurt your bonding because they will be even less likely to share the big stuff if they already have the message you are too busy or uninterested.
I hope this blog post inspired you to try dinner stories with your family. Do you have any special family traditions of your own? I’d love to hear them! Share them with us at @familyfocublog and @WhoIMetTodayPam.