The dinner table: How to avoid butting heads

Dec 29, 2011, 6 a.m.

When the family is gathered around the table for dinner, the very presence of multiple people can mean the presence of some unwelcome dinner-time visitors: Arguments, tension, and stress. Family dinner time should be an enjoyable and relaxing time, rather than a time for head-butting and frustration, so we have compiled some tips for family dinner ideas that let the good feelings in while keeping the head-butting away.

Off-limits topics

Certain topics should be placed off-limits during family meals. Any hot-button topic can qualify, and only you know exactly what to declare a "no-dinner-table" topic for your family. Generally, ruling out talk of politics, religion, sex, and declaring all debates off-limits should help to keep the stress and arguments to a minimum.

Good dinner topics

There are a number of things that the whole family can talk about during dinner, as long as it's not a free-for-all with everyone shouting at once. If your family includes young children (or just adults who act like it...) you might need to take a turn-based approach to dinner conversation. Perhaps each person can talk about their day for five minutes, or each person can talk about anything of their choice for a few minutes in turn (avoiding the off-limits topics of course!)

Family dinner ideas: Talk it over!

One great way to get the whole family involved in conversations with no head-butting is to open discussion about future family activities. Ask each person what they would consider fun family activities and family dinner ideas, and you might just be surprised at the general willingness to spend even more time together.

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