I’ve read several articles on helping your kids learn to eat. Some are helpful, some are not, but none of them really talk about the ideas behind the provoking situation. For me, it’s not about convenience, it’s about consumerism and ingratitude. Our cultural entitlement begins before we’re old enough to buy anything. Parents prepare food, kids refuse it, parents throw it away. We are effectively teaching our kids they deserve to indulge in a lifetime of capricious waste.
It isn’t just important because they’re driving us crazy demanding the preparation of five meals instead of one. Eating what they are served teaches kids gratitude instead of entitlement. They learn to approach God’s creation with interest and imagination, gratitude instead of selfishness, and treat others (the cook, for example!) with empathy instead of narcissism.
Kids are rude, entitled, and selfish. That’s okay, that’s entirely normal. But we are supposed to make sure they don’t stay that way, and that process takes patience and persistence. Eating with our kids at the table can help, as it provides them with a good example. Being a good example helps, too. If we are picky and wasteful, of course our kids will follow our lead.
Life is all about cause and effect — do good work, get a reward (hopefully–life isn’t fair). Same goes for dessert. Do the work of eating what you might not prefer, gain the reward of dessert. Children do not deserve dessert, adults do not deserve luxuries. We earn good things with effort. In this way, we treat our kids like adults, and give them a reasonable view of life rather than an entitled one.