In this three minute long video, I share three hard and fast rules to make family meals more peaceful, and parents a whole lot happier.
First, Never Insult the Cook.This rule is inviolable: you insult the food, you leave the table. No questions, no second chances. No “yuck.” No “ewww.” Tone of voice counts: you can ask “what is this?” but certainly not “what IS this?” The parent is the sole judge, there are no courts of appeal, and we must be swift and merciless. Polite opinions, like “I don’t care for this,” or “this is not my favorite” are acceptable. Anything more negative is not. Side benefit? Your kids will extend this courtesy anytime they’re guests at someone else’s table.
Second, You Have to Have It. You Don’t Have to Eat it. No matter how much you dislike a particular food, you get a little on your plate—but you don’t have to eat it, or even taste it, and no one will say anything about it. Parents provide the dinner; what you do with it is up to you.
That brings us to rule three:Dinner is Dinner, and there’s no food after dinner unless we happen to be having dessert. Short order cooks are not happier parents. Make one meal, always make sure there’s something on the table that everyone will eat, like bread or rice, and say no to “just a bowl of cereal” after dinner or anything else (unless you have a hungry teen who ate up all the dinner and then some).
My oldest son doesn’t like meatloaf, and when I thanked him for being gracious about it after a meal, he said “I don’t have to love it to eat it.” That’s exactly right. Sometimes dinner is delicious. Sometimes it’s just dinner.