Someone posted a "30 Days of Gratitude" calendar today on Facebook. It poses one question to answer for each day in November, the month that has branched out from showing gratitude specifically on Thanksgiving to being an entire month of gratefulness. I thought the calendar idea was interesting, but then I read the first question: "What smell were you grateful for today?"

I imagined asking my teenage sons that question at the dinner table. Maybe, just maybe, one of them might answer, "The smell of dinner cooking," but more likely, the answer would get goofy and gross — fast. I wondered what questions could be geared specifically for teens, and I came up with the following list.

I think I'm going to put the questions on folded-up paper in a bowl, and we can pull one out each day, whenever the time works for us. (We still have family dinner together as often as possible, but since my oldest now has a job we aren't always at the table together in the evening.)

Each of these questions can be followed up with a "Why?" to prompt a deeper discussion. I'm looking forward to hearing my boys' answers to these questions, and maybe learning more about them in the process. And they'll get to know more about me, because I'll be answering the questions too.

  1. What song are you grateful for?
  2. Which elementary school teacher are you most grateful for?
  3. What are you grateful for today that you didn't have until this year?
  4. Who helped you in the past week that you're grateful for?
  5. What challenge in your life are you grateful that you had?
  6. What coach from the sports teams you've been on are you grateful for?
  7. What thing (not person) have you seen while on vacation that you are grateful for?
  8. What was better today than it was yesterday that you're grateful for?
  9. Who made you smile today that you're grateful for?
  10. What opportunity have you had in the past to help someone else that you are grateful for?
  11. What basic need do you have that's met by being a member of this family that you're grateful for?
  12. What is the thing you are most grateful for in your bedroom?
  13. Which piece of technology do you own that you are most grateful for?
  14. Which one of your five senses are you most grateful for?
  15. What do you have that you are grateful for that you know some other people don't have the opportunity to have?
  16. What are you most grateful for in our backyard?
  17. What food are you most grateful for?
  18. What sound in nature are you most grateful for?
  19. What item of clothing that you own right now are you most grateful for?
  20. What holiday are you most grateful for?
  21. What family tradition are you most grateful for?
  22. What makes you laugh that you are grateful for?
  23. What present have you been given that you are most grateful for?
  24. What app on your phone are you most grateful for?
  25. What restaurant are you most grateful for?
  26. What concert are you most grateful you've gone to?
  27. What are you grateful that you learned today?
  28. What book are you grateful you got to read?
  29. What piece of artwork are you grateful for?
  30. What are you most grateful for in Philadelphia [or wherever you live]?

Not all of these questions will pertain to your particular situation — like my questions about a coach or about Philadelphia — so if you do this with a teen in your life, you'll want to swap out the details. No matter what you ask them, the goal of the exercise is to learn something you never knew about your teen and to explore topics together. Come to think of it, that's something to be grateful for, too.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.