Table Teaching

Proverbs 22:6

Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.

When I was a kid, I was expected to sit to the table and eat whatever my mother cooked- no questions asked. Some of the menu items, quite frankly, made my stomach role and my nose crinkle when I smelled them being prepared. But, I knew better than to speak a word of my opinion, for my father frequently reminded us; we did NOT live in a democratic household!

Since I had no control of what I ate, I decided I would be a “nicer” parent and give my children the opportunity to eat whatever they wanted.

Then I had children.

I quickly realized that my parents weren’t so mean after all. In fact, it was just the opposite! Because they loved me, they taught me the discipline of eating what was offered- and not complaining about it.

When our 1st child came along, she was an obedient first born, willing to comply with whatever Doug and I gave her.

When our 2nd child came along, she decided she wanted to snack every hour and a half instead of eating 3 full meals a day and 2 snacks in between. We had a decision to make: submit to her demands, or teach her wisdom that would last a lifetime. We chose the later, even though, occasionally, she would “frow a fit” when she didn’t get her way.

When our 3rd child came along with severe acid reflux and autism (which we didn’t discover until she was nearly 2 years old) no amount of discipline remedied her issues. But, when God gave me the insight of providing her with whole foods and a strict routine, her body and her mind thrived.

When our 4th child came along, he used his lawyer-like skills on Doug, me and his 3 older sisters to obtain his food of choice. However, the judge and jury were quickly made aware of his manipulation. He has since served time and is on parole- and being completely rehabilitated!

As our family sits down for a meal each day, Doug and I have the opportunity to teach them invaluable lessons that don’t just relate to food:

Lesson #1: Gratefulness

Lesson #2: Thankfulness

Lesson #3: Treat others the way you want to be treated

We do this by trying to follow a few simple “rules”:

-Thank God for providing the meal

-Thank the person who has prepared it (mom, dad, grandparent, friend, etc.)

-Eat what you take

-If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all (“yuck,” “I don’t like this,” “this tastes burnt,” “this looks gross” will insult the cook).

-You may give an opinion of something new, after we’ve tried it (as long as you continue to follow the “say something nice” rule!)

-If you refuse to eat, you may be excused without any other food until the next mealtime

-You may choose your favorite meal/dessert on your birthday (or when mom hasn’t prepared anything to eat and asks the family what they want! )

Even though mealtime has often felt like a battleground, instead of a relaxing time to fellowship and nourish our bodies, Doug and I are finally beginning to see the “fruit” of our labors. On multiple occasions, our children have been praised by complete strangers and those who have hosted us for a meal, for their willingness to try new foods and their thankfulness towards the cook. And that delights this mama’s heart.

Proverbs 29:15

15To discipline a child produces wisdom,
but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.

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