Meet the Carr Family! This family of five is enjoying a new stage with family dinners, as all the kids are now old enough to participate in deeper conversations at the table.
John and Abby Carr, and kids Stephen (18), Lila (17) and Mary (12). The Carrs live in Needham, MA.
Dinner happens late in the Carr household — maybe too late. “We tend to eat on the late side — sometimes finishing at 8:30 or 8:45,” John says. They’d rather get everyone seated by 7:30, which also might help with their second challenge: Keeping 12-year-old Mary from “dancing around!”
Life during a pandemic is stressful enough without trying to tackle family dinner scheduling, but keeping the whole family engaged at the table is a priority the Carrs take seriously. No matter what time dinner starts, they rely on having routines and rituals in place “that involve everyone.” For example, John says the family often focuses on games and conversation starters that ensure everyone at the table has a turn to speak. They might play “Rose and Thorn” (called “highlights and lowlights” at the Carr house) or a new favorite, “Flex, Contemplation, and Defeat.” Each person shares one thing they’re proud of, one thing they’re thinking about or wondering about, and one thing that embarrassed them or a setback they experienced that day.
John and Abby try to always prepare meals that they know everyone (or almost everyone) will enjoy, so they keep things simple and tasty. Favorites include grilled pizza, chili, meatloaf and build-your-own meals like tacos and burritos. Everything gets served with two vegetable side dishes as a Carr family dinner rule: a salad and one other, to provide variety and choice.
The family dinner table is “the place where we connect most,” John says. “Cell phones are down.” He adds that his advice to other families is “Keep the energy fun and the food tasty.”
The Best Part:
“Having deep conversations about the happenings of the world as well as our personal lives. All three kids can go there — at ages 18, 17, and 12, these days, the conversation is rich!”
Do you have your own family dinner project to share with us, or would you like to learn more about how to involve The Family Dinner Project in your community group? We’d love to hear from you! Contact Us.