Family Dinner Conversation

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-23-2004
Family Dinner Conversation
Tue, 05-18-2010 - 10:09am

This is a tough one for me, so hopefully someone has some ideas.
We have a blended family with her oldest (23) and my oldest (20) already living on their own. My youngest (18) stays with me sporadically, seems like her friends take precedence, not really a problem.

Sunday dinners have always been a big deal. Her oldest comes for dinner, and mine do as well. Now it's only my youngest as my oldest lives too far away to make it.

The problem is with the conversation. It is almost completely monopoloized with her middle child (18) telling us her latest updates. It's almost like the dinner table is her facebook status page.

My youngest has told me she doesn't feel like coming for these dinners anymore as she is completely left out of the conversation. I have tried to steer the table talk to other topics of interest, but middle daughter immediately grabs the floor and makes it about her again. For what it's worth, this is a part of her personality, she does this with her friends as well.

Now I understand not everyone is a good conversationalist, but I do feel that somehow we need more of a balance. I hesitate to mention anything to my wife, as this would be a criticism of her daughters personality.


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-20-2008
Tue, 05-18-2010 - 1:48pm

I feel for you.

The choices we make in thought, word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-23-2004
Tue, 05-18-2010 - 10:53pm

Thanks for the reply. We also used to do the best thing/thing that could have been better conversation thing when the kids were younger.

I think the older kids would see through this pretty quickly, I would like to be a bit more subtle on this.

If anyone else has any suggestions, please feel free to jump in.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-09-2007
Wed, 05-19-2010 - 3:22am
Hi, the big,
I am even envying you that you care about it. My DH is not a conversationalist during the family dinners, when it is for the guests he is a bit different. We eat together every evening, him, my DS 19 and myself. If I do not say anything there will be a complete silence. No one seems to mind though. So all subjects of conversation I start and my DH sometimes reply but he never would ask my son anything if only about football. When we eat with his three daughters and it is me of course who cooks even no matter on whose territory we eat they speak all the time between themselves, my DH would occasionally add something and myself and my son would not exist if we did not say anything. I do not mind his DDs, I buried my dreams about the big and friendly family sometime ago but I am not comfortable that my DH does not care or cannot do anything about us feeling more comfortable. When I take him to see my family I care he felt at home and comfortable.
So what i wanted to say you cannot expect anyone to change, you can see how you can change the situation, you are an adult, have an authority and experience, think about it. You know better their characters. That is what I am doing, I am trying my best to make my son feel comfortable, talk to him, ask my DH advice on smth concerning my son or just joking so that it would bring some excitement, try to cook smth special to put everyone into a good moods, I would do this anyway but in current circumstances I just can never relax quite
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-20-2008
Wed, 05-19-2010 - 8:04am

Well, like I said we didn't start doing it until they were 13 and 17.

The choices we make in thought, word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Wed, 05-19-2010 - 1:41pm

I am giggling a little bit, because my two oldest are 24 and 22, and my niece is also 22.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-04-2006
Wed, 05-19-2010 - 5:59pm

When you say, "the older kids will see through it" what do you mean? And which "older" children?

If you're talking about the 20-somethings seeing through it, does it really matter? And I'm sure they already know the 18yo talks too much and may be grateful.

If you're talking about the talkative 18yo, then I would definitely bring this up with your DW first, and ask her what she thinks about the idea.

I'm with Pam, if you preface it about wanting to hear things from every individual and about their week, etc, it 1. involves everyone, and 2. doesn't try to "hide" anything.

Lastly, I have a co-worker like this. Those "types" of people don't change unless someone says something. So if it's obvious to the others and even the talkative 18yo, who cares. Maybe she'll get the hint that she's inadvertently hogging the stage. and MAYBE she'll learn the act of listening.

I can understand your hesitation for not wanting to approach DW about it, however, I think you should discuss this with her. Maybe ask her what you think the TWO of you can do, to make your youngest feel more welcome. Let her know it's more about your youngest not feeling welcome versus the fact that her DD talks too much.

It's all about the angle of attack and how you present things. Obviously, "subtle" isn't working. Maybe being "not subtle" will.


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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-05-2002
Fri, 05-21-2010 - 8:59am
This sounds like my oldest stepdaughter! I've found that the easiest way is to just keep changing the conversation to things outside of her intimate life, like current events, new buildings going up around town, family happenings and plans... things she can't monopolize the conversation on. We're also Facebook "friends" so it helps that we already know a lot of what's going on in her life.

Feb 21 Warner Robins GA

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