(Unplanned) Attention Getter: My husband fixed a nice breakfast for the kids before school one morning (I had a dentist appt). I was impressed that he made scrambled eggs and toast plus he had set the table. He called us down, and as we were eating my little girl said in a nasty tone, “Dad? Where’s the drink? You should have made orange juice!” Then my son chimed in: “Yeah! or chocolate milk?”
Oh no, you didn’t…. We started in on the lecture:
Manner: Don’t complain about the food at all (this includes husbands too). Don’t say the meat is tough or the chicken is dry or you don’t like broccoli . As Croft explained, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!”
Say thank you for what you have been given whether you like the food or not.
Try all foods even if you think you don’t like them. (I used to not like salmon, but I’ve forced myself to eat it for the last several years because it’s healthy, and now I even made it for dinner this week, by choice- although I still prefer a cheeseburger any day.) Your taste buds can change or be trained- so keep trying foods.
If you just can’t eat a food, a simple ‘no thank- you’ goes a long way.
Be a contributor not a complainer. If you don’t see something on the table (like orange juice or chocolate milk), go get it. My dad was famous for saying, “Kerry, do we have any salt and pepper?” As a teenager, I would lecture him about his dumb question. I would say, “Of course, we have salt and pepper, now get up and go get it.” (He’s improved much- maybe?)
And like my mom used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Why: We don’t complain about dinner because it isn’t nice. I used a personal example with the kids to illustrate this point. I said, “Imagine you did your very best to color me a Sonic picture. You took your time, you were proud of it, and you were excited to give it to me. When you gave it to me, I said, “A Sonic picture? I hate Sonic. I wanted a picture of Knuckles.” How would that make you feel?” A light bulb went off and they understood (for a moment) how mom might fight feel after making dinner and then the kids complain about it.
Practice: I didn’t have to go out of my way this week to give the kids practice; I just made meals, called them to the table and somebody complained about something. Crew hated Hawaiian Haystacks, Elle thought the oatmeal had too much milk in it, and Croft didn’t like, well…anything. When they complained, I had them rewind and try a different reaction. I would say, “What is our manner this week?” or “How could you have handled that differently?” or “Try that again please” or “What would have been kinder response?” They would rewind and have a do-over.
Follow-Up: This is a manner that we work on every day and I am not sure we will get it down anytime soon. I can’t decide if my kids are rude, picky, or if they are just kids. Either way, we are working on being more considerate and polite and grateful. It is a daily struggle.