When kids won't eat what's for dinner...but are old enough to cook?
Will you permit me to hog the mike for a moment and ask for your advice? (One of the unofficial benefits of running a parenting advice blog, eh?)
What do you do when your finicky kids don't like (read: CAN'T STAND) what's being served for dinner and ask if they can instead prepare something else for themselves?
Context: we sit down to dinner together every night. As a rule, we eat good quality food, much (but not all) of it kid-friendly, and the cook (me or my husband) prepares a single meal for the entire family. The expectation is that people will eat what they like from what's being served.
My kids have always been picky and I've come to begrudgingly accept it. I read Child Of Mine by Ellyn Satter years ago and agree with it in principle: it's my job to choose and offer the food, their job to choose what and how much of it to eat.
The thing is now they are old enough (13 and 9) to politely decline the bulk of the meal and, 15 minutes after we clear the dishes, say they're hungry and go into the kitchen to make themselves soup, cereal or whatever other "meal" they want.
This is a problem. It is for me, anyway. It's not great from a nutrition, grocery budget, or taste-widening perspective. Plus, it just feels wrong (and even a little disrespectful and spoiled). And yet, the idea forcing kids to eat food they hate, and then blocking access to the pantry and fridge after dinner seems silly and possibly stupidly short-sighted.
Picky eating is a hot-button issue for me, so I don't always respond rationally or consistently. Can you help? Please leave a comment!
Yes indeed, I've got a parenting book about to hit the shelves and I'm asking for advice! I still have as many parenting questions as the next person, and I love that I can look to you for guidance as much as you look to Parent Hacks. Thanks for indulging me.
More: Tips, ideas, and recipes in the Mealtime archive