Soup's on, here come the questions! Mom of three, Cristy Clarke started playing a game with her young kids to kick off meal time conversation and the concept spurred into her business, TableTopics. Seven years later, the family card blocks ($25) help other busy parents reconnect with their offspring. I recently had a chance to talk with the game guru.
LilSugar: There's so much research that points to the benefits of families eating together. Can you speak to how TableTopics empowers that concept?
Cristy Clarke: That's really the heart of where this idea came from. I would come up with questions and put them in a basket on our table at night. I felt strongly that we have dinner together and it was always either everybody trying to talk over each other or nobody really wanted to say anything. When I had these questions, we had so much fun and I learned so much about my kids and what they thought about things. It really leveled the playing field from the oldest to the youngest because everyone got to have a say about what they thought was right because there was really no right answer. The girls would pull the questions out when they had friends over and their friends loved them, and I started getting calls from their moms asking where they could get the questions. So the idea was born that I could provide these questions to other families — especially busy families who have parents come home from work and are tired — just to be able to sit down for a couple minutes, turn off the TV, and have a good conversation.
LilSugar: Your daughters are now 14, 17, and 18, do you see the results and the rewards of your efforts (eating together and engaging them)?
CC: It's gotten harder as my girls have gone into high school, but most every day we sit down to eat. It's when we can share our days and talk to each other about things. It's really helped our family get through the years that can be difficult for parents and teens. The questions are props to talk about things that can be hard for parents and teens to discuss when they are arguing.
LilSugar: Is there a particular question that sparked a good conversation or debate that is memorable?
CC: I've always really enjoyed the questions that we have about what we remember from the past, not just memories, but the things that my kids are most proud of — those really stand out for me because my kids remember things that were big deals to them, but as a parent it wasn't. It's fun to hear from their perspectives, the things they most enjoyed about the trips we have taken, what they were most proud of when they were in grammar school, or the things they were most afraid of. I love the questions that make us look back because we remember from different point of view. Nobody is right or wrong.