By Robyn Schein
April 7, 2020
This week is a holiday week, and our first one in this quarantined life. In my family, Passover usually means sitting around the table with twenty-five of our nearest and dearest. This year, we are gathering seven households from four different states by Zoom.
Though I have spent some time in this quarantine mourning the loss of what we don’t have or can’t do anymore, watching my family prepare for our holiday has helped shift my perspective to see what we do have. We still have the ability to connect. To share an experience. To talk. And each of us is learning new and creative ways to tell stories and connect.
This perspective was reinforced when I texted a friend last week and, rather than text me back, he called. He said he decided to return all texts with phone calls because he actually has time to talk. There is time for conversation.
It is so true. Never has our family of five eaten so many meals together or spent more consecutive hours with each other because no one is rushing out the door to their next activity. While we could easily fill the time with noise—and we have plenty of technology for that—I wonder if we can be like my friend, and use the time for curiosity and conversation? Or be like my family, and use this time for connection and storytelling?
Over the years I would hear from clients about the conversations they would want to have with their families: parents wanting to be sure their kids know the family values or what is important; grandparents who are ready to discuss their legacy; children curious to understand their family responsibility. They said they wanted big conversations and then would site the obstacles as to why these conversations have yet to take place.
“We never have time for these talks.”
“I am unsure and afraid of how the conversation will go.”
“I don’t know how to start the conversation.”
Quarantine life is providing us with plenty of time. Being unclear about outcomes is now a part of our daily life. So, only one remains—how do we start the conversations?
I am using this week and the Passover Holiday to start a conversation. This week, as you set another table and eat another meal (holiday or not) I hope you’re inspired to start simply with questions. Our Exploring Series offers sets of questions that may help prompt some good ones. Here are some ideas to use them:
- Put the deck in the middle of the table (or one deck on each table if those you’re sharing your meal with those that are elsewhere) and encourage everyone to choose a card, share their answers and listen to others.
- At every meal this week, choose a question card for someone to answer at the table.
- Just like in the Passover Seder when the youngest leads the family in the Four Questions, put your youngest family member in charge.They can lead the rest of the table choosing questions. In addition to hearing the answers, you’ll learn what your youngest family members are most curious about.
These are a few of the questions I am using these days: What is inspiring you and giving you strength in this time? or “How are you connecting with people today? How has your family connected over the years? What are the conversations you are having during quarantine? What questions are you asking at your dinner table or on your family FaceTime calls or Zoom happy hours?
Send the good questions you’re asking or being asked to our virtual hotline: [email protected].