How to Dodge Clichéd Family Dinner Questions

I know it’s February, but this unseasonably warm weather has us all thinking about the same thing: Spring break. With shorts, sun, and relaxing days ahead, how is a college student to focus on the mounds of work still left to do before vacation? Before allowing your mind to wander off to golden tans, high school friends, and good food, remember that there is one obstacle we will all face over break: routine dinner conversations with relatives. We love our extended families, but it’s not a crazy thought to wonder why they insist on asking us the same mundane questions when they have had months without us to prepare. Next time Aunt Meredith asks you “how is college?”, “dating anyone yet?”, or “have you gained weight?”, use one of these tactics to switch the topic of conversation.



1. One and Done

If your main issue is not that you mind answering the questions, but rather endlessly repeating your answers to the questions, then this is the solution for you. After everyone has been seated, wait for the first opportunity you get for a lull in the conversation to make sure you mention how much you are enjoying school. Proceed to answer the follow up questions as early in the night as you can because the longer you wait, the less there will be for them to say to each other! If you ensure that everyone was listening, you won’t have to answer the same questions again… until next time at least. If you volunteer the information within the first few minutes of the meal, your relatives will move onto their next victim before you begin your first course and you won’t have to worry about dodging questions about the food in the cafeteria while you are trying to enjoy the food on your plate.


2. Wear your Tolerance on your Sleeve

While this one can be offensive, it is perhaps the most effective. Find a t-shirt that says exactly what you’re feeling so that you don’t have to. If you can’t find one that you feel accurately expresses the level of torture you are going through, make one! It may not seem like it’s worth the money or effort but just think about how much use you could get out of it! (You can customize your own t-shirts at American Apparel).


My sisters and I sporting our customized shirts!

3. Beat them at their Own Game

Just as you get annoyed by family members asking you too many questions, the other side of the exchange can be exhausting as well. If you tend to start out patience and drift toward frustration throughout the family visit, use the bulk of your energy at the beginning of the conversation so that you won’t have to later on. When they ask you questions you do not want to answer, give them what they want to hear… and much, much more than they asked for. No matter how much you want to give in, keep talking until you can tell they want you to shut up so that someone else can finally talk.


4. Be an Eager Listener

Remember the last time Grandpa told you one of his drawn out stories and you were fighting to keep you eyes open? Bring up a topic to pry that same story out of him so that everyone at the table gets to share in the riveting experience. After he’s finished (if he ever gets there), ask him to tell you about what his life was like when he was your age. At this point, you may ask him all the same questions you are used to receiving at family functions and allow somebody else to be annoyed at your questions for once.


5. Share the Attention with your Sibling

While you may feel guilty after turning on your teammate, desperate times call for desperate measures. If nothing seems to be working to get you out of the spotlight, bring up your sibling’s latest accomplishments (or failures if you’re seeking revenge) so that your family may be included in this “oh-so-joyous” time of victory. Don’t feel bad, you were just being proud of your favorite little scapegoat!


Do not waste any more time reciting your entire week’s worth of classes for Uncle Mitch, so he can make sure that liberal arts schools are not a waste of time. Instead, employ some of these methods so you can demand control of the conversation for yourself!


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