Dinner with purpose. Anyone for a little ‘High-Low’?

As a kid, there was a phrase I dreaded above most others when dinner was coming to an end. My mom would ask, “Anyone up for a little ‘High-Low’?”  It was a game we played to see who had to clear the table and who had to do the dishes.  Thankfully, I just learned of another dinner-time version of High-Low that might just enrich your life as a parent.

Last week I shared breakfast with Atlanta commercial real estate executive, Steve Tart, of Ben Carter Properties.  Steve and I had met by chance a few weeks earlier on a train ride to the airport and agreed we should pick up our conversation again at a later date.  So, now here we were sitting down for that follow-up meeting and talking about parenting among other things when Steve shared one of his most powerful parenting experiences.

He said that he and his wife had not only made a habit of sitting down for dinner together with his teenage son over the years, but they had done so with intention.  Rather than dinner being solely about eating and small talk, they had made dinner about connecting with one another.  They did it through a simple game, they called “High-Low”.

They would go around the table, and each person would share a high point from the day.  Then after everyone had gone once or twice, they would go back around to touch on a low point from the day.  Simple, easy, powerful.

Steve said the “Low” was one of the most insightful parts of his parenting…allowing him to easily tap into things that were bothering his son.  After all, bother becomes stress.  Stress becomes disengagement, and disengagement can lead to all sorts of dark and unwelcome consequences.

On the flip side, using a short, simple, conversation like this one may open the dialog to uncover your kids’ greatest talents as well as their darkest fears.  Instead of asking “How was your day?”, give this approach a try.  Instead ask, “Let’s each share a high point and a low point from our day.  I’ll go first.”

Soon you may be off to the races, getting beneath the surface of your kids emotions, and who knows, perhaps just maybe saving someone in the process.