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Sick of asking your daughter if she had a good day only to get a “mmhmm” or “yeah” in response? What about the joys of competing with her favorite video game or social influencer for attention? We hear you and we feel your pain.
The thing is, you can’t really blame your girl for not being engaged if you’re only asking whether she has soccer practice this weekend or if she finished cleaning her room. Of course, in your mind, you’re showing interest in her life and passions—but to her, you’re just making small talk (and asking yes or no questions, which don’t actually require a super involved answer!).
Break through the clutter this week by trying one of our 25 favorite dinnertime conversation starters. Don’t usually sit at the table for meals? Start now! It’s a great way to foster family conversations and togetherness, which is why these are conversations that everyone can and should be a part of. (Hint: they’re also great for long car rides!)
Get started tonight and you just might be surprised by how much your girl has to say!
1. What was the nicest thing you did for someone else this week?
Being nice is, of course, its own reward, but let’s be honest—shouting out the good you’ve done and getting recognized for it can feel great, too. Be specific and ask her to talk about something kind or thoughtful she did for someone else, giving her a chance to share without feeling like she’s bragging. Bonus? Talking about generosity and thoughtfulness might get your girl thinking about new ways she can help others and inspire her to go out of her way to be kind even more than she currently does.
2. If you could choose any superpower, which would it be?
Sure, flying might be cool, but what about being able to read minds or see through walls? Would she want to make herself super big or tiny like the characters in her favorite superhero movies? Once you figure out which power she’d choose, ask her how she’d use it—just think of the possibilities!
3. If you ran for president (or class president!), what would be your campaign slogan be and why?
Face it: “Ice cream for everybody” and “Let’s save the planet” are both pretty cool options. Plus, this conversation might get your girl thinking about running for office!
4. What’s something another person at the table does really well?
Is this kind of a forced moment of positivity? Yes. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. Although your girl might find this exercise a little cheesy at first, she’ll likely love watching her family members light up when she gives them kudos—and she’ll feel pretty great when it’s time for others to talk about what makes her great, too.
5. What’s your favorite scent and why?
Our sense of smell is super tied to our emotions, so this question can be deceptively deep. Whether she says she loves the aroma of Grandma’s enchiladas or the way the campground smells first thing in the morning, talk to her about what those things mean to her and how they make her feel. If she can’t think of an answer right away, tell her about one of your favorite scents to give her inspiration.
6. If you were an inventor, what would you invent?
A cat box you’d never have to clean? The cure for the common cold? A robot that could braid hair in less than one minute? The sky’s the limit when it comes to innovation. Why limit family members to just one new invention each—keep those ideas coming through the whole meal!
7. What makes you feel special, loved, and appreciated?
Offer an example of something your girl has done that made you feel loved (maybe even just sitting and having this conversation with you!), then ask everyone else what kind of gestures are meaningful to them. When they’ve done something great, what makes them feel best? Does your girl get a rush from a shout out on social so all her friends can chime in with congrats, or does she hate being in the spotlight? Did it mean a lot to her to receive a trophy for her athletic achievements, or was it even more special when the coach told her how much progress she’s made lately? Your family’s answers might not be what you assume, and they’ll give everyone insight on how you can make one another feel supported and special every day.
8. Who do you want to be more like and why?
Whether she wants to model herself after her favorite soccer star, a popular singer, or even her best friend, the important part of this question is why? Does this person give back to their community? Are they speaking out about something your girl cares about? Are they talented and hard working? Funny? Clever? Learning why she looks up to her heroes will give you a window into the values she holds dear and could spark other conversations about how your girl might be a role model to other younger girls!
9. If our digital world disappeared for a week, what do you think would change in life, and what would stay the same?
Full disappearance of the digital world means no social media, no text messages, and no YouTube or Netflix. Heck, we wouldn’t even have GPS to tell us how to get places on the weekend. There’s no telling what ideas your girl might come up with, but she’s likely to be wowed by just how much of her life is lived digitally. Thinking about “what if” scenarios like this will get your girl’s brain churning in creative, and possibly surprising, ways.
10. If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Get creative with your answers, then make a playlist with each person’s song for a post-dinner dance party!
11. What do you miss about being younger, and what are you excited about doing when you’re older?
Time keeps on ticking—and giving us plenty to be nostalgic about! Surprising but true, even the littlest of kids usually have thoughts on this one.
12. What’s something you’re not great at but like doing anyway?
Life would be no fun if we only did the things we’re good at! Perfection is overrated—celebrate the things you do just because you love them.
13. If you could time travel, where would you go and why?
Maybe she’d go back to her favorite band’s concert and relive the whole thing with her bestie, or perhaps she’d want to meet Cleopatra and see all the cool inventions in ancient Egypt. Where would you choose to go? There’s no wrong answer here, just a lot of cool times and places to dream about.
14. What’s one problem in your school/community/the world you’d like to change? Why is it important to you?
It’s a small world, and whether or not you realize it, your girl is hearing and thinking about some pretty big global issues. Chances are she’s got some pretty big ideas about what’s wrong and what’s right. Encourage her to think about how she can help bring about the change she wants to see in the world. Maybe there’s even a way you can work together as a family to make a difference!
15. What’s something you think is absolutely perfect?
No matter if her answer is a sunny day with her siblings at the water park or the way her crush’s hair curls, it’s fun to take time to think about the things that make us happy and appreciate the good things in life.
16. What animal do you think you’re most like and why?
Find out who’s playful and loyal like the family puppy and who’s cool as a chameleon! Switch things up by having family members guess which animals you’re each going to pick before you reveal your answers.
17. Who should play you in a movie?
Whether she picks a celeb like Ariana Grande or even thinks she should play herself, the answers (including your own!) could get people thinking and maybe even giggling.
18. If you could only bring three items to a deserted island—no cell phones allowed!—what would you bring?
This modern twist on a classic will get everyone thinking about their needs, their wants, and how to make do without their favorite apps!
19. What’s your favorite family tradition or one you’d like to start?
Every family has its own fun way of doing things. This conversation will help you prioritize the activities people truly love or plan some new and wonderful experiences for the whole crew.
20. If you planned a feast for our family, what would we eat?
Would your family rather order takeout so you’d have less work to do and more time to relax together, or would family members want to help make your famous lasagna? And who wants to have dessert first (or only dessert!)? You’ll only find out if you ask!
21. If there was a book about your life, what would it be called?
Don’t worry if it takes everyone a minute to think about this one. Summing up your life and who you are in a book title is no easy challenge! If you’re really stuck, share titles of some recent autobiographies to inspire your crew.
22. What’s something that scares you, and how do you deal with it?
Being brave isn’t about being fearless; it’s about pushing past those fears! Talking about the things that frighten us or make us uncomfortable help us realize that feeling scared is normal and healthy—and the coping strategies each of you share might come in handy for someone else at the table.
23. Would you want to be famous? Why or why not?
Some people love the spotlight, while others would rather hang out backstage and get stuff done behind the scenes. Both roles are necessary, and there’s nothing better or worse about either!
24. What makes you feel calm and relaxed?
There’s a lot of talk about wellness these days, so why not extend the convo to your dining room? Learning about what keeps each member of your family chill can help you support them through tricky times. You might even pick up a helpful relaxation tip or two!
25. If you could invite one more person to have dinner with us tonight, who would it be and what would we talk about with them?
This is a fun way to get to know everyone’s interests and the kinds of conversations they’d most like to be having. It’s especially good for families that don’t normally eat together at the table, because the answers different people give can inspire future mealtime topics!