One Big Lesson Parents Can Learn from American Girl and Chick-fil-A

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I have three daughters, which means there has always been a high probability that at some point I would find myself in an American Girl Doll store. I’ve actually been in two, but that’s a story for another day.

And because I’m a dad, and an American, and a Christian…I love me some Chick-fil-A.

So what did I learn from these two businesses that might not be visible on the surface?

Recently my entire family – joined by my daughters’ dolls – had the pleasure of dining at the American Girl Bistro inside the store. Let’s just say American Girl is very proud of their product (translation = $$$). But sometimes we parents need to bite the billfold bullet and do something special. And I’m glad we did, because American Girl reminded me of something I intuitively know, but often forget…

American-Girl-Conversation-Starters-600x398On the table there was a box full of fun questions – conversation starters. Of course this is brilliant from the restaurant’s perspective – keep the patrons busy while they’re waiting! But it did something more. The questions got us engaging as a family. We practiced listening to one another. We laughed at each other’s answers. We talked about what we would name our horses, if we owned them, and what one word we would use to describe ourselves. I know a lot about my kids; I know how I would describe them. But it was fun to see how they see themselves.

American Girl gets it. Get families talking around the table. It’s fun. It’s incredibly healthy. It gives us parents a tool to be intentional, instead of getting sucked into our phones to see what other people are eating or doing.

Chick-fil-a gets it, too. Every year the local CFA has a Daddy-Daughter Date Night. They do a great job with this, and they take it all the way to the detailed level of the placemats at your table. On those pieces of paper that will soon be covered in chick-fil-a sauce there are conversation starters to help dads be intentional with their little girls (even if they’re not so little anymore). The questions are simple, but they get the ball rolling.

All this gets me thinking about the opportunities I have each week. We try to eat together as much as possible. We’re busy just like you. So when we get together around the table, I want to be intentional. I don’t want to be satisfied with one-word answers like “good. ok. fine.” And I don’t want the meal to just be about getting my kids to eat (if you have boys, you probably don’t have this problem).

So let’s spice it up a little bit. Ask some fun questions like “Would you rather have shrimp for pinky fingers or really hairy elbows?” I bet there thousands of Pinterest pages about this, so just google “conversation starters” or sit down and make up your own questions! But just to throw you a bone, here’s a mom who made her own and offers to send you all the questions! BTW…this works for your spouse or your significant other as well! Be done with dull dinners!

As I said earlier, this is pretty intuitive and maybe you get this already. But this dad needed a reminder to be intentionally pursuing my kids. We have so many battles ahead of us, so my relationship with them is mission critical.

So, all that to say…I can’t wait for dinner tonight.

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