Friday, March 19, 2010
This morning at Henry's ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education), the parent discussion topic was picky eaters. The facilitator was going over the list of ways in which we can help keep our children from being picky eaters and how to work with our picky eaters to keep expanding their world of food. I truly believe our children are born with some of their eating habits - Charley ate EVERYTHING and Henry is very picky. I did very little different with them from the start. But I do believe there are things we do as parents that can emphasize picky eating habits or help our children move onto stretching their diet horizons.
One of the points made this morning focused on sitting down and making meal time social. One of the moms brought up that this makes her uncomfortable because she thinks one of the problems with obesity in America results from thinking of eating as a social experience - and I understood where she was coming from. Lots of social is associated with eating. I only got a second to think about my response and when it got to me I did have a second to share my view - but on my drive home I got frustrated that I didn't have a chance to explain my ideas further - and I know the facilitator didn't get to either. So here is my thinking:
My issue with kids and obesity revolves more around snacks. I pointed out that today most mom's can whip out at least 1 and sometimes 3 snacks from her purse at any moment. I have done it - when I need them occupied in a waiting room, when they are whining in the car, when they ask at a park etc. I really, truly think, that family dinners are not to blame! So strongly - I can't begin to tell you how strongly.
There are children that graze all day - on healthy and unhealthy choices but they never sit down and eat a balanced meal with conversation and table manners. And yes, maybe what they are consuming is more healthy in many instances - but, for most children, snacking is not the healthiest food intake of their day.
I will admit that I do not sit down with my children at breakfast and lunch every day. I know I probably should. However, this is my chance to get the kitchen cleaned up, laundry switched etc. My boys chatter away and their relationship grows with every meal.
Family dinner time for me has always been about our family (mama, daddy, Charley, and now Henry) sitting down together at dinner time. One mom countered that her family spends plenty of time with each other so meal time isn't important.
Yes, we spend plenty of time together. I, for sure, spend my whole day with my boys. However, I do not spend my whole day looking at them, asking them questions about their day, letting them see me ask their daddy how his day was etc. Family dinner to me is about a balanced meal, conversation revolving around sharing and problem solving, table manners, learning how to converse and sit quiet.
I know that at this age we also get this conversation time with our little ones before bed - BUT, when my boys are 10 or 15.... I am thinking I won't be tucking them in at night and having some cozy conversation cuddled up after reading a book or two. So when else am I going to get them to sit down DAILY, showing them that they have a FAMILY that supports and cares for them. I am plan on depending on family meal time as our chance to remind our children that we are here, we are strong, we are grounded, and we CARE ABOUT THEIR DAILY LIVES! And when sports and evening activities start to invade our family meal time - adjustments will be made - but they will ALWAYS KNOW that dinner will be served in our house. And their mom and dad will be waiting, ready to listen.
This is how I grew up and I really believe it gives a family a strong foundation. Yes, there are instances where a parent works in the evening or children have extra curricular activities - I would make adjustments and make weekend meals a priority or make sure to have breakfast with them...or set up a family meeting time.
But if family dinners can work in your family- take the opportunity and don't waste the chance. It can be a life long opportunity to connect with your children - and in today's day of technology and lifestyle - connections are key for children when making the healthy choices in life.
Do you do anything fun with family meal time to make it fun or special? Or do you have a different opinion on family meal time? PLEASE SHARE! I have more posts related to family dinner time coming in the next week!
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