Parentally Challenged Dinner

When did cooking at home become the exception and not the rule? Is life that much more hectic than it was just a handful of years ago?

It amazes me that it’s much more normal now for a child to get away with not eating anything set in front of him because it was ‘home cooked’ and ‘he only likes burgers from McDonalds.’

I’m not talking about stages of childhood like the cold hot-dog phase but rather the practice of teenagers to scoff at food that someone just spent an hour making for them.

Here’s the thing, there really ARE people who have no time to cook or more likely aren’t home at the time that dinner occurs since with more one parent homes than ever before this is often the case. The problem and question would be are we still taking the time to teach our kids that it’s OK to be adventurous once in a while?

What a good meal can teach a child!

It really doesn’t have to be from scratch or even home cooked but a meal that is outside a child’s comfort zone is NOT a bad thing. On the contrary, it can be a REALLY GOOD thing. We just have to treat it as a positive experience while maintaining our parental status in the household. So what can our tiny minions learn from a few simple dining experiences?

1.       Manners – It may seem small and insignificant but asking politely for someone to pass the (insert food you cooked that you know your kid will eat while everyone else enjoys real food here) goes so far to them asking politely for other things.

2.       More Manners – Please respect those brave home cooks who still do cook for you and anyone you might bring over to their house and teach your kids it’s not cool to say ‘blech’, make retching noises, or say ‘I’ll wait until we leave and you buy me some McDonald’s.’ Which, by the way, we KNOW you’re going to do when they start acting like that anyway. It’s not just a blow to our ego it says something about how that child will treat other people when she grows up. And we DID work hard, asked if he was allergic to anything, and asked what her favorite food was, which brings me to…

3.       Not all foods are made the same – I get it. KFC chicken is amazing and Long John’s Fish can’t be beat. And while we could make a burger that looks like a McDonald’s cheeseburger we don’t because we don’t see the need in spending all that money on a heat lamp to keep a food warm and dry it out just so our kids will eat it. Show your kids that there is more than one way to prepare chicken and it’s only completely inedible if its raw or burnt, and burnt is on the fence!

4.       Try new things – All of which goes to just trying new things. I don’t expect a child to come to my house and all of a sudden find a new found love in broccoli but when I take the time to cook up cheesy and meaty creations that any kid should love it would be nice if they knew they were to at least try it. Now, I and too many others I’ve known have gotten fat from the generation of ‘eat everything on your plate’ but I still enjoy saying ‘you’re going to eat at least half of that.’ Not to mention other good phrases to tell the kids like, ‘don’t put it on your plate if you aren’t sure you will like it’ when they go to other people’s houses. Which ultimately concludes our journey at…

5.       You’re the parent – it is SO awesome to be a friend of your child, too bad it doesn’t help your child. I know there IS a grey area but the extremes are always horrible. From military style parenting to saying they can do whatever they want as long as they are happy, we raising an extreme. It’s not going to kill your kid to tell them they have to eat half of their chicken breast or most of their potato salad. It won’t even hurt them a LITTLE to eat a few spoonfuls of green beans or peas. “But my kid doesn’t LIKE green beans or peas.” NEITHER DO I! They’re horrible. But it doesn’t mean I can’t scarf them down from time to time.

And on that last note, think of all the areas in life where you’d like your child to listen to you while at the same time realizing that when you say something you mean it. I knew it when I was growing up but then I spent countless hours sitting at a dinner table wishing my green beans would disappear before finally giving in and eating enough of them that my nana would let me go play. Did I curse my parents under my breath? You betcha! But I also did a lot of growing up in those hours and maybe that’s just what this world needs.

Because the bottom line is, show me a kid who’s sitting around a dinner table until bedtime not eating his dinner and I’ll show YOU a kid who isn’t doing drugs, spray painting buildings, or playing with guns.


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