12/17/2015 10:30 EST | Updated 12/17/2016 05:12 EST

Feeding The Kids Versus Eating As A Family

family enjoying meal mealtime...

"Hey Jim-Bob, did ya feed the pigs?" asks Farmer Mom. "Hurry up and finish yer chores so's we can have our supper."

(Which no doubt involves yellow grits and a pat of butter.)

Sound familiar?

No it doesn't.

I don't have any pigs.

I've never been to a farm.

Fair enough. But this is how you treat your children. Like pigs on a farm eating slop out of a bucket. Not like people who are joining you for dinner.

How dare you say that Amy Fish?

I am feeding the kids organic grain fed chicken nuggets, sugar free no dye ketchup and matchstick sweet potatoes masquerading as French fries.

They are most certainly not eating potato peels from a trough.

Since when did feeding the kids and eating dinner become two separate activities?

Then, once the kids are fed, my partner and I will sit down to chicken breast marinated in peanut sauce, roasted balsamic vegetables and a tomato and avocado salad.

Aha! You just admitted it. You just said that you will "feed the kids" and then you will "sit down" and eat your dinner.

Since when did feeding the kids and eating dinner become two separate activities?

We have always had dinner as a family for one simple reason. I'm lazy. It's much easier to prepare one meal, set up once and clean up as a group than to spend the entire evening clearing and fetching and wiping.

Turns out my laziness had benefits. Everything I read says that kids with regular family meals have less depression, better marks and higher self-esteem.

Why don't you eat dinner with your children? Let them eat food, on regular plates and join the conversation.

Here are the excuses you are going to give me:

  1. I get home late/My husband or wife gets home late.
  2. I work evenings/My husband or wife works evenings.
  3. I work days/My husband or wife works days.
  4. My kids have activities.
  5. My kids are training for the Olympic modern pentathlon.
  6. My kids are all different ages so they can't eat at the same time.
  7. My kids are the same age and everyone knows twins are so much more complicated than singletons.
  8. I have six kids so we can't eat together.
  9. I have one kid so we can't eat together.

Yes. All of the above are true. If you are a parent, then you or your partner or both of you work. You may have one or several children, and someone, somewhere has to be training for the pentathlon. Tokyo 2020 will be here sooner than you think.

These are not reasons not to eat together. These are descriptions of real life.

If you are home late, you can eat late. If your kids are hungry give them an apple.

If one of you is working during dinner time, the other one can eat with the kids. Or, you can eat breakfast as a family. Or, you can eat together on the days off.

If your work life is so stressful or your kids have so many activities that family dinner is never, ever a possibility, you may want to consider your lifestyle. We all think tutoring is important. And so is playing intra-mural table tennis. But if it's come to the point where nothing else is possible then I urge you to reconsider.

The pigs will thank you some day.

About the Author: Amy Fish just published her first book, The Art of Complaining Effectively. She blogs regularly at Complaint Department, and is a Contributor to Her Magazine. A professional Ombudsman, Amy learned a lot about what makes a complaint work. She distilled these tips into an 86 page book illustrated by colourful and humorous examples from every day life.

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