Friday-night family dinners are a great time to reconnect after a busy week. Whether you order in Chinese, pick up a rotisserie chicken or whip up something from scratch, make tonight's dinner about talking to each other and sharing what happened in each family member's week. At the start of dinner, ask each person to tell the others about their favorite event of the week. (Hint: Begin with the youngest member of the family -- little ones often can't wait!) Go around the table in order of age, and remind everyone that practicing good listening is as important as telling their stories. Mom and Dad should take turns, too. Kids are fascinated by what happens in your life when you're away at the office or they are in school!
Another theme for discussion, if you have school-aged kids: News stories. You can discuss local or national news -- or even the news from school. (Perhaps the classroom pet had babies, or a classmate lost a tooth, or a friend's family welcomed a new baby -- it may seem small to you, but to kids, these are major events!) Let each child take a turn "reporting" on an event they read or heard about -- or even witnessed. Encourage them to talk abut the event based on "who, what, where and when" and then ask them to share their opinions about what happened. You'll probably want to stick to lighter news -- but if a major event has happened in the world this week, and your kids want to discuss it, hear them out and answer their questions. Again, practice listening without interrupting (this includes you!).