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Let Them Have a Voice at the Dinner Table

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

When Michelle Obama talks, you listen.

She captured my attention for the full 75-minute conversation she shared with Komal Minhas at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata last week.

The talk was part of her tour which complemented her NYT Bestselling book, Becoming (which, gratefully, was a book club choice back in January).

Michelle reflected on a range of topics including grief, gratitude, your health and kindness. Yet the one piece that really stuck with me had to do with the dinner table. And allowing your kids to have a voice.

She said that as a child growing up in South Chicago, her family’s dinner table was the consistent space where she knew she had a voice amongst her family members.

From debating hot topics to ironing out a sticky situation with friends, their family’s daily tradition brought them together. As a result, Michelle shared that her parents always made her feel she had a voice and a spot at the dinner table. That message gave her the confidence to speak up, share her opinion and learn to listen with those closest to her.

It was her safe space. That message hit home with me.

Our home is currently in a fluid state. As parents who also co-own a business, we’re consistently trying to catch up on the day’s work while making dinner and navigating requests to play house, inspect poo (for real), and reviewing the day’s work at school.

So, it’s easy to lose focus. Bark at one another. Just get through dinner.

Michelle’s message really spoke to me to ensure that we slow down for those 25 minutes and re-connect. Ask good questions. Truly listen. And even allow our littlest to sit on my lap to help with those last few bites.

The dinner table is an easy place to qualify as a safe space where your voice can be heard.

So the next time I’m silently rolling my eyes in an effort to just make it through another dinner, I’ll try to remember Michelle’s words. And let them have a voice at the dinner table.

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