Does your family carve out time each day to sit and chat face to face with one another? Do you talk about your day, catch up on each other’s lives, dream and plan for the future, and in the process, get to know each other better?
I think this “catch up time” looks different for every family. Maybe your family congregates around the dinner table for a big family meal every evening, bonds over coffee before work in the morning, or turns down the radio and talks in the car on the way home from school. Maybe you’re the type of person that enjoys going on long walks with your child or spouse so that you can concentrate on your conversation, or maybe you prefer to catch up on the go, here and there between other activities and obligations. Whatever your style, I’m guessing you have at some point in your life fallen back on these mundane conversation starters:
1. “How was school?” 2. “How was work?” 3. “What did you do today?” 4. “How was your day?" 5. “How’s the weather?”
And if your family is anything like mine, you’ve received these simplistic answers in return:
1. “It was ok.” 2. “Fine.” 3. “Not too much.” 4. “Long.” 5. “Hot.”
And that’s where the conversation dies.
If this sort of conversation seems to happen all too frequently between you and your spouse or children, switch it up a bit! Ask some new questions beyond your usual repertoire. (I will share 100 such conversation starters in just a moment if you’re unable to think of any yourself!)
When I worked as a camp counselor, we spent time every evening before bed bonding with our campers in a session we called “Reflections.” We would dim the lights, sit cross legged in a circle around a flashlight, wrap ourselves in cozy blankets, and settle in for a good conversation. The cabin counselor would pose a question to the cabin or a “what would you do?” scenario. Some questions were silly, others serious or spiritual. Campers were given time to think about their answers, then each would answer the question in turn. An object would be passed around the circle to signify whose turn it was to share, and campers who didn’t have the object were not allowed to interrupt the talking camper. I always learned new things about my campers during “Reflections” and began to understand each of them more fully in ways I wouldn’t have had I never asked such unique questions.
Maybe you’d like to bond more fully with your family, but don’t know where to start? Try creating a time for “Family Reflections” of your own. Whether it’s dinner, a car ride, or the lull before bedtime or devotion, sit down, pose a question, and give each member of your family an opportunity to answer it! You may be surprised at what you learn about your family!
Here are 100 “Reflections questions” to get you started!*
1. What was the best part of your day? What was the worst part of your day? ("Highs and lows") 2. What three things would you put in a time capsule that your descendants would dig up in 100 years? 3. What’s something you’d never order at a restaurant? 4. Describe a time you felt God was at work in your life. Next, describe a time God felt far away. What made the difference? 5. Finish this sentence: “The one question people ask about Christianity that I don’t have an answer for is...” 6. If you could dye one thing purple, what would it be and why? 7. What are you most afraid of and why? 8. If I were President, the first thing I would do is... 9. I am against...I am for... 10. My advice to someone in (insert grade/age level here) is... 11. What do you think people like most about you? Least? 12. What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? 13. What are you most looking forward to about getting older? 14. What is one goal you have for this (week/month/year)? 15. What is the hardest part of your job/grade? 16. If I could teach everyone in the world one thing it would be... 17. What is the ugliest thing you know of? Why? 18. What’s your favorite tv show? 19. If I could do anything I want tomorrow I would... 20. When I grow up I want to be... 21. Describe yourself using words that start with the letters of your name. 22. If you could change your name, what would you change it to and why? 23. What are four traits you are looking for in your future spouse? (Or for a spouse, what are four traits you are glad you have in your spouse? Four traits you’d like to see more of in your spouse?) 24. Share the one thing you like best about our family, and something you dislike about our family. 25. If you could be any animal... 26. If you could look like anyone, who would you look like and why? (Talk about body image, world’s perception vs. healthy perception). 27. If you could get rid of one problem in your life right now, what would it be and why? 28. What is one thing this family does not know about you? Your friends don’t know about you? 29. What do you like best about your friends? 30. What is your greatest talent? 31. Who is your role model? 32. If you had an empty store to do whatever you wanted with, what would you do? 33. If you could tell anyone anything without having any negative consequences, who would you tell, what would you tell, and what would be the ideal consequences? 34. What do you want people to remember you for? 35. What is your heart’s deepest desire? 36. How can you show God in your life tomorrow, next week, at home, and at school? 37. What makes a person “cool”? 38. What was the scariest time in your life? 39. What was the most embarassing thing that has ever happened to you? 40. What is love? 41. What is hate? 42. What is your biggest pet peeve? 43. What makes you angry? Sad? Happy? 44. If you knew you were going to die tonight and had the chance to make a few phone calls, who would you call and what would you say? 45. What is a decision you regret making? 46. What role(s) does each member of your family play? 47. How has your family life affected the kind of person you are? 48. How have your friends/enemies affected the kind of person you are? 49. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 50. If you could start a new hobby, what would it be? 51. If you could have any superpower you wanted, which would you pick? 52. What is your favorite childhood memory? 53. What’s your funniest memory? 54. What is something someone said that you will never forget? 55. If you could invent a machine to do something for you, what would you want it to do? 56. How would you describe your relationship with God? 57. What characteristics make a teacher a good teacher? 58. What do you pray about? 59. What do you think heaven will be like? 60. What was the best/weirdest dream you have ever had? 61. Why do we have war? 62. What is good/bad about where we live? 63. Share 5 things you have bought over the last month. Were you pleased with the purchase or regretful and why? 64. The thing I really love about my (mom, dad, sister, brother) is... 65. What does a “happy life” look like? 66. I wish I had more____. I wish I had less_____. 67. If you could be any kitchen appliance, which would you be and why? 68. If I had to live with someone other than my parents I would choose... 69. The bravest thing I ever did was... 70. If a friend gave me a gift I didn’t like I would... 71. The hardest thing about growing up is... 72. If I could pick a nickname for myself I would choose... 73. If everyone forgot my birthday I would... 74. I think the opposite gender has it easiest because... 75. People fear death because... 76. My deepest need is... 77. I’m most lonely when... 78. I thank God because... 79. The most bizarre combination of foods I’ve eaten is... 80. The worst tasting food I’ve ever eaten was... 81. If I had to eat the same meal for the rest of my life I would eat... 82. A time I sacrificed something for someone else was... 83. The way I need encouragement today is... 84. The best/worst thing about church is... 85. When a friend gets mad at me, I usually... 86. My favorite family holiday tradition is... 87. Money is great, but... 88.The nicest thing anybody ever said about me was... 89. If I could raise one person from the dead, I would.... 90. The first words out of my mouth in the morning are... 91. My favorite place to think is... 92. People find it funny when I... 93. People would describe my bedroom as... 94. I’m most like my dad/mom/spouse/child when... 95. I enjoy reading... 96. I enjoy being around people who... 97. I can talk for hours about... 98. The animal my personality most resembles is... 99. Time goes slowly when I’m... 100. The one bad habit I wish I did not have is...
*These questions come from over 12 pages of Reflections prompts amassed from Camp Phillip staff members over the years. Some of them also come from the book “450 Tantalizing Unfinished Sentences to Get Teenagers Talking & Thinking”
Do you have a time to "reflect" daily as a family? Are there any questions from the list above you plan to ask your children, spouse, or other family members?