Preparing for “Set the Dinner Table”

Our Mother’s Day Bunch at Our Home 2021

July 21, 2021

Hopefully, you read my previous blog post (July 17, 2021; My Own Safe Space – For Real) to get some clarity about this blog post. For in the last days, I have been rediscovering the power of journaling as part of my wellness/mental health program. For years, that was my mental health relief. Seemed so long ago now. Finding it, once again, during the caregiver season of my life, is a “royal” blessing.

Today, I am preparing/refining my questions for our upcoming activity, “Set the Dinner-Table.”  My family/friends deserve that I put serious thought into my questions and the entire process.  

Stacey not only gave us examples of open-ended questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how), but she shared an explanation behind these types of open-ended questions ( 

Therapists, for instance, ask each type of question in hope to:

  • Elicit insight into relationship(s) (The Who)
  • Lead/identify facts (The What)
  • Enable discussion about the place/environment (The Where)
  • Bring about the timing of a problem, including what happened    immediately before and after it (The When)
  • Identify reasons/causes (The Why)
  • Enable a person to talk about feelings and/or processes (The How)

The questions, she said, that we select to use are meant to gain an understanding of the people who have gathered at the dinner table, i.e., what makes you “tick,” how can I/we best help you, what do they think about a matter, etc.  The details from our conversations will be useful in provoking even more engagement for elevating a safe space.

I understand that these types of questions may  (1) draw attention to positive or negative events; (2) help us understand root causes of (hidden) trauma/problems; (3) increase one’s confidence in coping with negativity or not; (4) secure or build trust among ourselves or not; and (5) provide only a starting point for establishing safe space (as this is the goal).

I have decided to focus my thoughts of asking open-ended questions that I think will encourage the sharing of information to re-connect us as family, post-pandemic.  I want to know how each of them are really coping in any area that they desire to share (i.e., spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, or academically).  I know how they seem from the outer appearance, but maybe there is more.  I see how busy their daily lives are; I hear how tired they are. Yes, much is on all of our  plates…but today, I set the dinner table for them, because Mother/Nana wants to know how are you really doing?

Here is my starting list from which I can pull from:

  • What has been more difficult for you during this pandemic?
  • What type of emotions have you experienced during the pandemic?
  • What are your thoughts about the future?
  • How can the family help you in making you feel at ease?
  • Do you feel we, as a family, are more like an ocean, sailboat, tree, skeleton, grass, or board?  Why?
  • What are some ways or things you believe we should change?
  • What should be the emergency plan(s) for this family since experiencing the pandemic?
  • If you could be a food item, what would you choose and why?

Conclusion –  As a family, we can make the REAL strategy, given to us by our Melissa, as our validation/recommitment in this season, to the family at this dinner table.

REAL – Our Strategy (given from Melissa)

R – You are relevant;  I promise to show up and be present for your growth and greatness.

E – Empathy; I will make every effort to show empathy to help you through your situation.

A – Apologize; I apologize for making you feel unsafe that you could not come to me.

L – Listening; I promise to practice active listening to learn; I want you to be heard.

With that being said….

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