Recently, an esteemed parenting author wrote this meme and put it onto Facebook then quickly removed it due to negative feedback (like mine!) :

pantleytablememeThis was my response: Moorea Malatt:

“Wow. Your version of dinner out sounds like I would never want to go out again. I prefer to engage my child in the cuisine and the atmosphere, model manners myself and make it about family time first and foremost. If I can’t focus on cuisine and family time and atmosphere we may as well stay home.”

Children aren’t here to be controlled. They are here to be enjoyed and to enjoy life with.

Likely your heart was in the right place, Ms. Pantley. I think you mean that parents need to talk to our children and not the lobster at the dinner table else they may get bored and act out. What about teaching them how to gather behavior cues from the atmosphere. I read her meme as I was putting the finishing touches on my Gentle Discipline Online Program and I was suddenly hoping that I can soon also write the book, to reach more people.

Pantley is one of the very few writers of parenting books who errs on the gentle side of discipline and honors the breastfeeding relationship. I’ve loved her, but now I’ve been shocked enough to read her whole No Cry Picky Eaters Solution and I sadly do not recommend it. Of course I wondered if her meme’s words were just designed to counter the current popular parenting theme of the European/French ways of raising children… But shockingly, Pantley suggests hiding the veggies and making elaborate fun plates full of food for our children.

Being sneaky and bending over backward to camouflage or prettify food will not teach our children how to just sit down and eat the nutritious food. We are merely pandering to pickiness that way out of a fear that our children will starve without mac and cheese.

It’s true, I do tend to lean toward European parenting when it comes to food. I do believe our children should start coming with us to restaurants as babies as frequently as we want or can afford to eat out. I do believe that they should eat some of what is served and not just the kids’ mac and cheese. Learning table manners and taking cues from the environment starts really, really young. If we start early, we have a 4-year-old who is a joy to travel and eat with.  More on tots and picky eating here: DON’T HIDE THE VEGGIES: RADICAL TIPS FOR PREVENTING OR ENDING PICKY EATING  

What kinds of restaurants have your taken your children? Starting at what age? How has it gone?


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