The book I'm reading right now is French Kids Eat Everything, by Karen Le Billon. It's a fantastic read about how different the French are compared to Americans when it comes to food. Duh, right? But really... it starts with their kids.
French children are not given special attention, excuses or value when it comes to meals and food. Children are expected to behave like little adults at the table. They exude manners and etiquette that would be expected from any French adult (which would far surpass most American adults, sadly). Kids are expected to try every food and eat it without complaint. Most kids have no need to complain, because the food is delicious.
I should probably step up my cooking game.
The beauty of these expectations (amongst many other unwritten rules) is having children who eat a wide variety of foods... including fruits, veggies, meats and foods that are not particularly identifiable. How grand is that!? As parents, the French do not make separate meals for their children, they do not indulge in calorie dense snacks and the kiddos are having a nutrient rich diet that is full of variety. In addition, kiddos go to the restaurant with the folks and eat a meal like little humans... not little animals.
How many little animals have you had dinner with lately?
The French have a significantly lower obesity rate in their country compared to most other countries in the developed world. France in general, has a lower rate of diabetes, heart disease and other life threatening diseases that the US. This should be proof enough.
I'm not quite finished with the book yet, but I've found it so inspiring that I've sought out additional books on French parenting. It's a beautiful thing to imagine living our lives to the fullest right alongside our children... rather than waiting for them to be out of our way. Why can't we raise our kids to be decent, mannerly and pleasant? I'm fairly certain I've quite the learning curve ahead of me... but it's given me hope that being a firm and disciplined parent may not be all that old fashioned.
For starters, we're going to eat a delicious dinner tonight. All of us.