Our children are constantly picking up, processing and sorting data from people, experiences, and their environment. The more people, experiences and environments they encounter, the more data they have stored in their little brains and very quickly learn to use the data as points of reference for making decisions and drawing conclusions about truth and the big wide world they live in and how it all relates to them. This is nothing new, but, perhaps, something we tend to forget. Johnny and Molly’s moms are reminded of this concept during their conversation at the park with the kids.
Johnny and Molly play happily on the playground while their moms spend some needed girl time together chatting and solving the world’s problems. The only world that seems to exist at this stage of their lives is the tiny world they call home and the problem facing them today is meal time with their little ones.
“It never fails!”, Molly’s mom chimes. “She leaves good food on her plate at every meal. And then she gets hungry and I don’t have the heart to make her wait until the next meal.” “Yeah, not eating all of his food has just become a habit with Johnny. Trying to change his eating habits now would be a nightmare!” adds Johnny’s mom.
They both sit in the cool of the morning, silent and staring off at nothing. “Oh the kids!”. They both stand up and catch a glimpse of their children. “They’re fine.” Watching them play, Johnny’s mom reflects on their conversation. “So…. maybe we should think of all the values that Molly and Johnny are learning at meal time.” “Values?” Molly’s mom questions. “Yes. I mean, isn’t it true that our kids are like little sponges, constantly soaking up everything about their environment? What do you think is being communicated to Molly and Johnny when we allow them to walk away from the table without eating what we have prepared for them, and then give them snacks to hold them until the next meal?” Johnny’s mom replies.
“Wow, yeah, I’ve never thought of meal time as an opportunity to teach them values!” Molly’s mom realizes. Watching the children play, they begin to evaluate meal time and thoughtfully examine the details of what is really going on in the minds of their children during the haggle over meal time.
Molly’s mom deduces, “I guess when they don’t eat what we prepare for them… they are really showing a lack of appreciation and respect for the time and effort that was put in to it.” “So true.”, Johnny’s mom agrees, “Gosh, if we allow them to keep up this habit we are actually encouraging thanklessness and wastefulness!”. Molly’s mom continues, “The snacks in between meals……that’s rewarding them for those negative values!”
Both realizing that thanklessness and wastefulness are not what they ever intended to instill in their children, they admit this is exactly what is happening. They continue their thought process. “Come to think of it, after we say the blessing I always tell Molly to finish her food so that she can go out and play, and I end up caving every time.” “She is learning that your words carry no weight and she is large and in charge of herself. Molly is practicing disobedience and being rewarded for it!” Johnny’s mom exclaims. Molly’s mom pauses to consider the weight of her friends words and finally adds, “Yes, and making our kids do things they don’t want to do is an opportunity for us to teach them to discipline their minds and make good choices. And we are missing the opportunity.”
Wow, that’s a boat load of evaluations and deductions going on in the morning light under that park pavilion! These mamas are thinkers and nonconformists. In their larger circle of friends and acquaintances there is very little support for this way of thinking. But Johnny’s and Molly’s moms have decided that there has got to be a better way than what normal has to offer and are not willing to let popular behaviors or opinions determine the choices they make for their children.
Johnny and Molly leave the playground with their moms. The moms have discussed a plan for meal times in the coming week and agree to get back together later to share their struggles and successes.
……………to be continued.
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