Our “Dinner of Truth”
Having young adult children is exciting. Learning about how they view me as a parent from their perspective is even more exciting. My husband and I have four young people getting ready to move into the world as independent contributors and just when we thought our job as parents would be ending, we see how it is simply evolving yet again. We may not be laying the groundwork anymore but we now see that we can have conversations with these people we’ve have been preparing for life about how they will go forward with what they have learned and perhaps serve as consultants and guides.
In order to do this, my husband and I, after reading Dr. Tasha Eurich’s book, Insight employed a strategy she described called the Dinner of Truth. The objective is to get feedback from your guest(s)and hopefully gain insight about yourself. We used Eurich’s list of values from her workbook to have a discussion with our children about what they felt their values are and how those values may have been impacted by my husband and I in raising them.
I had been considering for a while, after writing my memoir, how my parents’ values affected me and I wanted to know from my own young people how my ideals shaped, and may be shaping them. I had realized in reading Eurich’s book, and in writing my own, that this examination of values never took place formally at any time in my life. I had a difficult time, as did my husband, identifying my own values readily, especially without a list as a guideline. The talk of family values has permeated our politics and culture and yet I could not easily, succinctly identify my own. In reading Eurich’s book I felt that it was important to concretely know the things I value to move forward in structuring my life so that it is most meaningful and effective for me. The Dinner of Truth was going to be our chance to see if our kids’ perceived our values the same way we did and to also determine if there were things they may have learned from us that we passed on unknowingly.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner together and then poured over the lists and reflections they’d made at the end of the meal. We sat at the table for over an hour and a half learning not only about ourselves but about each other. My kids took turns sharing their top five values and commented on how they believe my husband and I shaped those attitudes and ideals. While we encouraged positive and negative feedback, constructive criticism and honest evaluation, most of their remarks and observations were on the plus side. They identified specific incidents and provided examples of behaviors or conversations from their childhoods that bore out our attitudes and intentions and were reflections of our values.
The Dinner of Truth was a delightful exchange of thoughts and impressions about ourselves. While my husband and I hoped it would help us move forward in continuing to guide and assist our kids, I think we all learned a little more about ourselves and each other. Although the discussion was rather contrived in nature, arranged and planned and not at all spontaneous, it resulted in thoughtful, calm dialogue and laid a solid foundation for other meaningful, future conversations.
What other kind of topics might we explore? What might you discover at your next Dinner of Truth?