Archived Story

Learn to enjoy talking at the dinner table

Published 2:12pm Sunday, January 27, 2013

Question: I know that eating meals together is very important for both family nurture and structure, but the talk around our supper table is less than uplifting or interesting. Do you have any helpful suggestions?

Maryanne Law

Answer: Enjoyable conversation is a learned skill. Like anything else kids learn from adults. Share something interesting from your day, and then ask one of the kids to share something that happened during the morning, the lunch hour or the afternoon during his or her day. When one child has shared, ask him or her to choose someone else at the table to share next. It’s always a conversational asset to have someone in the group who remembers interesting trivia. Here are a few facts that might generate some discussion:

• The U.S. interstate highway system requires that one mile in every five be straight. These sections function as airstrips in times of war and other emergencies.

• The Boston University Bridge is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train moving under a car driving under a plane.

• Cats have more than 100 vocal sounds, while dogs have only about 10.

• Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

• Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

• The first toilet ever seen on TV was on “Leave It to Beaver.”

• If NASA sent birds into space, they would soon die because birds need gravity to swallow.

• Armored knights raised their visors to identify themselves when they rode past their king. This custom has become the modern military salute.

If you would like to talk about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent Warm Line at 1-888-584-2204/Linea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out

Maryanne Law is the executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin.