Popsicle vs. Poopsicle: your ticket to better dinner conversation

by | Jan 21, 2019

It’s possible that dinner conversation is not quite what you had dreamed of. I had fantasies of a happy family gathered around, politely eating a meal that they appreciated and each person happily chatting about their day, one at a time. If you have that, congratulations. You have my respect. If that is still just an aspiration, you are not alone.

There are so many family dynamics that go into happy family meals. This article only addresses the art of getting family members to share about their day. I, for one, have been guilty of asking kids through all their ages, “How was your day?”  Then I wait and expect them to give me a nice, thoughtful, executive summary with a beginning, middle and end focused on the parts of their day that I find interesting. Go ahead. Laugh at me as you picture me trying that with my three rowdy boys who were not quite so, ummm… CALM or verbal when they were young. (Does that imply that they are calm now?  Oh, sorry… that wouldn’t quite be accurate, either…)

Two tips to up the odds of your satisfaction with dinner conversation:

      1. Don’t put pressure on the kids to regale you with stories of their day. Tell a couple stories yourself. Keep them short, sweet, and kid-friendly.  This is modeling how to talk about one’s day.

      2. Come up with a way of sharing that speaks to your particular “pack.” (Because isn’t every family its own unique pack of sorts?)

Here are a few tried-and-true options to experiment with:

    • Have everyone spin a little dial that points to different feelings to share.
    • Everyone share their “Rose (grateful), Thorn (hard part) and Bud (hope).”
    • Share “Mad, Sad, Glad.”
    • Find out what each person is grateful for.
    • Buy or create a little box of questions to be answered and take turns drawing one.
    • Or, try my favorite for young boys, shared with me by a father/stepfather of SIX BOYS–Have everyone share their “Popsicle” and “Poopsicle” of the day.  Leave it to a little boy to find that question hilarious. (Oh wait… I’m pretty sure my college-aged boys would still find that amusing.)
    • Bring one current event to the table and share your thoughts about it.
    • Bring one “fun fact” to the table to discuss.

Don’t go for meal-time perfection any more than you expect them to have all of life figured out. This is a skill to be developed over time.

Visit Kerry’s extensive collection of articles on parenting…a treasure trove of tips and insights.

Calm Parenting

Before I had kids, I always pictured myself as a calm, loving, happy, and nurturing mother. I was sometimes. I still am sometimes. I didn’t realize how hard I would have to work sometimes just to avoid coming completely unglued and falling apart right there on the...

That was then…This is now

As I watch, walk, read and listen, I am horrified and heartbroken about the systemic pervasiveness of disrespect and destruction of Black people’s lives that is rooted in racism.

One Way to Start Mother’s Day 2020

I think the sweetest gift I could receive would be WORDS. Words that in spite of my imperfections, my humanity, my annoying idiosyncrasies, and my mistakes along the way … that they’ll take me the way I am. That I am enough.

Raising Boys Made Me Braver

I have had to call up the intrepid, courageous, and active parts of me that, up until motherhood, had laid somewhat dormant.

The Car Sanctuary

So often while driving, my kids would fall asleep and I found that to be a quiet peaceful time. So, I decided to make my car my sanctuary.

Instead of M&M’s, Kids Need More N&Ns – AKA: My Kid Hates When I Say “No”

One day when I took my young son to Burger King, he wanted something he couldn’t have and I said no. It didn’t work out well for either of us.  What he wanted was “white pop” (known to older kids as Sprite). I was OK with that. I held the cup to the Sprite label on...

Popsicle vs. Poopsicle: your ticket to better dinner conversation

It's possible that dinner conversation is not quite what you had dreamed of. I had fantasies of a happy family gathered around, politely eating a meal that they appreciated and each person happily chatting about their day, one at a time. If you have that,...

How Do We Parent in Ways We Weren’t Parented?

Make lasting changes in behavior that last a lifetime and span multiple generations. In some ways, it's easy to parent our children in ways we weren't parented, right?  I was a latch-key kid with a working mom who was gone a lot. When it came time for me to be a mom,...

What Is Head and Heart Parents About?

Hi! I’m Kerry Stutzman. At Head and Heart Parents, we care about all things related to parenting.  I, and the other therapists I work with, think about the entire system of a family, from the well-being of the kids to the sanity and sense of humor of the parents....

My Favorite New Year’s Resolution

I loved this resolution because it helped bring to life a piece of me that I longed for: the part that can pause long enough to truly see and hear my children’s words and respond with a smile