The Red Plate Theory

Family / Susan / Wisdom

The Red Plate Theory



Well, friends, it’s finally here. My explanation behind many Facebook, Instagram and Twitter mentions or pictures of the ‘Red Plate’. I posted a quick update on my different social media platforms about the Red Plate and had since been asked (countless) times to share the wisdom behind the Red Plate. So, here it is (finally)!

We all know that we, as human beings there is something within us that craves connectivity. We are created as relational beings and so our need to connect and even to go further, through that connection to feel valued is within each one of us. To ignore this core piece of who we are is like saying Mount Everest is comparable to a speed bump or a small ski hill. To be acknowledged but not revered.

In talking about connectivity and value, we then realize that within each one of us there is a desire and even need to belong. To not only to belong but to be a significant part of that belonging. So, my Red Plate Theory has a lot to do with just that, Belonging and Significance.

As children, we love to marvel our parents with our accomplishments whatever the scale. Since becoming a parent, I have now experienced the sheer joy one feels when a child conquers a task, sings a note or takes the first step towards their future, whatever that looks like. There are celebratory moments in life (both big and small). It’s in these moments where we feel, on the inside; that life is okay. That someone is cheering us along, and we just fit in and in that moment, in that space life is good. We belong, and we are significant.

With this in mind, I decided that we needed to celebrate these moments with more than a smile, a hand clap, a cheer that only lasts a moment and then time moves on. I wanted my kids to know that their achievements didn’t go unnoticed or that, when life gets busy, and things get missed, what they did was seen and that they do, in fact, matter. Keeping in mind, I think that sometimes we live in an over-praised society, and everything is celebrated through a participation ribbon or an award (don’t even get me started on that!). Hence, ‘The Red Plate Theory’ and the explanation of how and why it has worked so well at #CasadeSohn. My Instagram & Twitter followers will recognize that popular hashtag.

The Red Plate Theory – explained as best I can:

In our home, when one of our children (or, on occasion Philip or myself) do something that stands out and deserves recognition. It could be something like a high mark on a test/assignment or a glowing report card or MVP for their sports team. Or, perhaps (as the children age) our teenagers have made some wise choices that deserve honouring, or we’ve seen them help another person or added value to the community. The list can go on, and the beauty of this is you make it yours so it suits your family. For us, it’s when they have done something that has warranted recognition. It’s beyond a hi-5 or a quick cheer dance (yes, we do dance – a lot!). It’s a time where we want to celebrate as a family, and it’s here that The Red Plate comes out. Usually, this happens at dinner time because dinner is an important time in our home. Let me explain why. Philip and I have come from families where dinner has always been a priority. Not quite the Downton Abbey style but it has been a time of gathering for all, young and old and we have kept this tradition alive in our family. We eat together most nights, and we sit at the dining table and engage as a family. This time is almost sacred for us because as most of you know, we are foodies, and we love community, even just our little family community 🙂

In explaining this, I want you to understand ‘The Red Plate’ isn’t used all the time. Trust me; there have been many occasions when someone has thought ‘The Red Plate’ necessary but have been quick to learn that it isn’t a ‘willy-nilly’ decision to bring it out. As I said earlier, they have to have done something that stands out allowing ‘The Red Plate’ to increase its value (sometimes a very hard message to understand but one worth teaching). Through this, there is a value attached to what is happening in our home and it’s funny, but it’s through something as small as a dinner plate.

Personally, I love the nights when the kids have no idea the plate is coming out. It’s always fun when I ask that the table to be set and call out to whoever is setting that night, ‘Oh, can you get “The Red Plate’ out.’ If they have no idea, there is usually quite a bit of conversation to determine the recipient. The conversation is usually between Gabriel & Ella (our youngest). Their older sister, Sophia remains calm and relaxed and ever so slightly disengaged but apparent to her mother that she is desperate to know who is the recipient. I love that she too is eager but remains the relaxed teenager. I have come to love the way our kids celebrate one another when they learn who has done something so good and ‘stand out’ that they almost sit in awe of one another. It warms my heart. I love how ‘The Red Plate’ has become a teaching tool in our home… I love, I love, I love.

There are a few things this 45-year-old mother of three has learned over the years:

1) Parenting is hard work, and there isn’t a day that goes by that a challenge doesn’t present itself.
2) Sometimes it’s the little things, like a Red Plate, which can make all the difference.
3) The family has many shapes and forms and whatever it looks like it’s our family, and that’s what matters.
4) Creating a home or as I like to call it a Haven takes time, effort, sometimes late nights and early mornings but it’s all worth it.
5) Time spent laying in bed with each of your children (before bed) as many times a week is time well spent. The conversations are absolute gold.

These are just a few thoughts from a mum who is trying to build a Haven surrounded by love and security and letting her children know they belong, and they are significant. I hope it helps. Now go out and feel free to get yourself a Red Plate and start making more memories for everyone.


(for more parenting conversations like this jump on our daily radio show GetRealLive with Susan and listen in to the fun conversation. we always share openly and honestly)