This is an excellent article with examples of great eating and parenting/family practices.
“When my kids started attending daycare in Paris, I was struck by the lunch menus. Every day, the 3-and-unders were served four-course meals. A typical lunch started with carrot salad and moved on to salmon in lemon-dill sauce with a side of pureed broccoli. This was followed by goat’s milk cheese and baked organic apples.
Amazingly, the toddlers — mine included — actually ate these gourmet lunches, often with gusto. When I sat in on one meal, the kids had made it to the cheese course, and were earnestly debating the merits of Roquefort.” Pamela Druckerman in You Just Have to Taste It: Getting Your Kids To Eat Like The French
I see two key ingredients here that contribute to making mealtimes peaceful.
(1) “The French believe it’s their role as parents to gradually shape their children’s tastes, and to guide them through the pleasures of different flavors.”
I’ve never visited France but this article suggests that at least these French parents see themselves as the kind of leaders I’d like to follow…those who have everyone’s best interests in mind while they care for others non-defensively. I admire that they recognize that elders pass down cultural heritage and wisdom through food rituals.
Dr. Gordon Neufeld, author of Hold On To Your Kids, says “Central to any culture is its food – how food is prepared and eaten, the attitudes toward food, and the functions food serves….The child’s hunger for connection and inclination to seek cues from adults take care of it [the transmission of culture].” A child can feel security and rest in their parent’s love and care. They need not worry about making decisions about food. Resting in this security models interdependence: the flow of being cared for and caring for others.
(2) “Keep the mood light.”
These parents and teachers take defensiveness and worry out of learning how to eat and feed ourselves. The parents and teachers serve nutritious food for all. Learning to eat is simply something that we do to grow up. It is nothing to get into power struggles with.
Did you notice what whole foods were offered from start to finish? So much is conveyed through the serving of food including eating practices that support our health. They served vegetables first, then proteins, and ate cheese and fruit last.
I think this article gives us good food for thought.