Last week, someone emailed me an article from the New York Times titled Putting the Squeeze on a Family Ritual. The sender of the email wanted to know my thoughts on the ideas presented in the piece. To be honest, my first reaction was: “This is ridiculous and it is pure marketing!”
While I admit that this article pushed all of my buttons, I am trying these days not to just react, but to understand.
After a couple of glasses of wine to quell my annoyance, I asked Andy what he thought. He congratulated me on having a relevant business and having an opinion that is sought after. However, there wasn’t much satisfaction in knowing that there are people who feel life is to be “lived on the go,” even if you are only a 4-year-old.
If you read last week’s article,
you know why I support family dinners. Family dinners teach self-control and manners. A regular dinner ritual provides better nutrition, better family communication and better family connection.
I am not wholly against a squeezable fruit snack when you find yourself in a pinch, but I believe it is just as easy to grab an apple, orange or a banana as it is to open a box and pull out pouch. What really baffles me is the thought that a pouch of fruit could supply the nutritional needs of dinner. Who believes that, really? W
hy would the New York Times publish such silliness?
I met with a client last Sunday who was bemoaning her teenage daughter’s desire to cook in the kitchen. The fledgling chef leaves such a mess, it is a burden for her mom to clean up after her. I suggested that she teach her daughter that cleaning up is part of the whole cooking process. Her shoulders slumped at the suggestion. Yep, more work.
Parenting can be a lot of
work and a lot of frustration. It is part of the deal, whether we knew that is what we were signing up for or not.
As I work and speak with parents, I get the feeling that we think it is supposed to be easy. If only we could get the combination of the right language, right school and right activities, raising kids would be a breeze, and things would run smoothly. Our kids would simply get with the program, and know just what to do.
Well, the stark truth is that they won’t.
When your kids decide not to eat their dinner or to try a new food, you must allow yourself to feel the frustration, then move into a creative way of dealing with it. Giving your kids responsibility over something that they are beginning to learn to do is not the way to set them up for success.
Dinnertime is more than just one more thing we have to schedule. It is the place where we help form our children’s identities, their family stories, their histories, their nutrition, their civilization. Dinnertime is an anchor in a challenging world, and it can’t be replaced by a pouch of fruit in the backseat of a car.