Whether it's over vegetables, the main course or an item in the salad, at least once a week, you will hear the words "It doesn't always have to taste good" at our dinner table.
When it comes to food issues, we definitely chose our battles (we're not the type to make our kids go hungry if they don't like the meal), but because dinner has the potential of being one of the most hectic parts of our day, we had to instill some rules so it could be a time we all enjoy.
For our family, dinner was not enjoyable when we would make our boys eat something. It made for lots of tears on their part and lots of frustration on ours. We almost dreaded dinner time and by the time it was over we were exhausted.
Our ideal, was to put food on the table, we all sit together, eat and enjoy the company. Now why is that so hard?
Overall, our biggest obstacle at dinner is centered around the fact that they don't like how it tastes.
That is why we say so often "Well, it doesn't always have to taste good" and we try and teach our kids the following about food:
- Jesus tells us to give thanks for everything, so that includes this food we're eating.
- Food is first and foremost for our nourishment, not our enjoyment, although sometimes you get both!
- Daddy works hard to make money for us to have food to eat, so we must be thankful.
- Mommy works hard to make the food we eat, so we must be thankful.
Well, when there is a food item on the table that someone doesn't like, we have a few rules:
- You can not say anything negative about the food itself (ex:"this tastes gross") because these feelings seem to spread like wildfire (ex: "yeah, it's slimy" and soon no one wants to eat it).
- After expressing thanks for it, you can politely refuse the food after one bite (ex: "thank you for this mom, but may I have more salad instead?")
- You can not have any other food that is not on the table (more on this below*).
So as long as these rules are followed, we let them refuse a food being offered, because honestly, it's easier to just choose our battles in this case. Everyone has likes/dislikes and we want to respect that but they need to respect the fact that what is on the table is what is for dinner.
*With that said, there are certain meals that I just know our boys don't like. Some of Ryan's favorite meals (Mexican Chicken Casserole, Green Chili Burritos, etc) are meals that our boys do not enjoy...yet. So instead of heading into dinner knowing that they are not going to eat most of what is offered, I chose to win the battle before it even has a chance to start! I will sometimes put together a simple plate of peanut butter sandwiches or crackers with tuna, etc.
And since they can chose any food on the table, they have the option of tasting the main course, but choosing to eat only the sides. And little do they know we all avoided a battle!
Still there are times when not everyone will especially like what is offered, but what you see on the table, is what you get and "it doesn't always have to taste good"!
This may not work for every family, but it definetly works for ours!