Dinnertime, Part II

I’ve been thinking more about our predicament with Elvis, and the thing is, even if we gave him his way and let him not eat dinner, the child would still be one of the crankiest little saps on the planet. He is thoroughly crabby. I am rather certain that the glass will always be half-empty for this little boy. So how does one train the pessimism out of a person?

The only solution I have, at least presently, is to pray hard that the Holy Spirit would settle in his heart and help him to have joy and contentment. Forcing him to sit at the table and clean his plate every single night, crying, is unlikely to convince him that all kinds of food are good to eat. Forcing him to take one bite of his food, to at least try it, is a reasonable enough request, and if at that point the child still insists on not eating, then so be it. No dinner. There are plenty of children around the world who do not eat three meals a day and have grown to be healthy human beings. If he changes his mind, then I’ll warm up the dish and he can eat.

I can’t remember if I’ve said this already, but I do not want to get into the habit of making Elvis a special, separate dinner, and that isn’t going to happen. Granted, if I know that what I’ve made is an “experimental” dish, I’ll make something that I know they will eat, or I’ll prepare a variation of the dish that leaves out whatever it is I can bet isn’t going to be palletable for preschoolers. But making mac and cheese or hot dogs or PBJ for dinner in addition to whatever I’ve prepared for the rest of the family isn’t going to help matters much either. He already gets all of the potential nutrients from these dishes at lunch time.

I do not think it is unreasonable to expect my kids to try the food that we’ve prepared for them. It might be going too far to ask them to clean their plates when it is clear they don’t like what I’ve dished out. So as long as they are fine with not eating anything for dinner, then I’m fine with them not eating. After they’ve tried their food.

I would like to be done with the hour-long crying at the table over whether to even try a bite, though. Someday the rationale behind this will set in for my son. At least I can hope.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

2 thoughts on “Dinnertime, Part II

  1. Elise was that same way. We pulled our hair out, fought and pleaded. Instituting our current rule has made all the difference in the world. She doesn't like a few things (simple requests, like onions and peppers) and I leave them out of her portion. What gets set in front of her is her dinner – she doesn't have to eat any of it, but isn't allowed to complain one bit. If we get a tantrum over what's on the plate, she looses it. If she eats everything, she gets dessert. After the first few days, we haven't heard a peep about not liking anything and she usually eats it.
    Granted, every kid is different and Elvis may be a million times more stubborn, but once you find the way that will work, it'll be that giant lighbulb flicking on above the dinner table.
    So, really, rest assured that there are so many others sailing along in the same boat 🙂


  2. You know, my parents did what you guys are doing. I never was a picky eater, but Carly was. There were a few things that we wold absolutely not eat and mom did not make us. For me, it was peas and applesauce (not mixed together, that would be gross). It was a texture thing to me. Mom saw me almost barf up applesauce once and I was excused from eating it ever again (I still ca't eat it to this day. Thinking about it makes me queezy). That being said, I had to at least try new things and eat stuff even if they weren't my favorite. I think you guys are on the right path. I mean Carly and I turned out almost normal! 🙂 I hope this gets easier!!!


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