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August 26, 2016

{Why I'm OK With Them Not Eating}

I wouldn't say that my kids are particularly picky eaters. I think they (especially the boys) know what they like and unless it looks appealing to them or sounds like something that might taste good, they don't want it.

I've been told my countless people that I should make them sit there and eat until it's gone or I should make them at least try it. I've also been told by people that I shouldn't let them have something else if they don't want what's in front of them.

I have a hard time with that, for several reasons.

For starters, I am of the opinion that if you don't like something, you don't have to eat it. When is the last time you sat at a table and were made to eat something that didn't sound appetizing to you? Or how about the last time you were made to eat something you knew you didn't like? Right. You don't. If you don't like it, you don't put it in your mouth. It's that simple. Why should it be any different for kids?

My grandma was an amazing cook growing up. She made all kinds of meals for us, usually nothing that we didn't like. But on the occasion that she did make something someone wasn't in the mood for or didn't like (like beans and corn bread..blech!), she didn't make us eat it. She didn't even make us try it. She just said If you don't like this, you can make yourself something else. Which meant we could throw in a pizza if we wanted, or we could have cereal. Sometimes we made a sandwich. It all depended on how much work we wanted to do.

Now, my grandma herself made one meal. She did not stand at the stove all night cooking four different foods for four different kids. But in the eighteen years I spent in her house, I never once was made to eat something that I didn't want or like.

On top of all that, I don't want to fight with my kids over food. The term pick your battles comes to mind. Why fight with them for twenty minutes about whether or not they want to eat those green beans, it'll frustrate me, it'll frustrate them, and it'll ruin everyone's night. I don't need that stress. I am with my kids for just a few hours in the afternoon after school, I don't need an hour of that time to be spent making them sit at the table eating something they're probably not going to eat anyway.

I've heard people say a few times that they have sent their kids to bed hungry if they didn't like what was put in front of them. I can't do that. Can not. The idea of my eight year old sitting in bed with an empty tummy just because he wouldn't eat what was put in front of him makes me want to cry. I hate the idea of it.

Dinner time is not set in stone. When I was a kid we all ate at different times. Grandma and whatever kids were home at the time it was ready, ate dinner together. My grandpa usually got home later so he ate then. Sometimes the boys were off with friends and didn't get home until later so they would eat when they got home. It wasn't a big deal. Because of this, I don't stress about my kids eating when it's dinner time. They'll eat when they're hungry. When's the last time you sat down to eat a meal but weren't hungry at all? Right. My kids shouldn't be made to do it either.

I'm sure there are people that don't agree with me. That will tell me kids need structure and rules. And they do. Just not when it comes to food.

How do you feel about your kids and dinner time?