Disclaimer: This post is part of Welch’s Share What’s Good campaign, for which I was compensated. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I am a big believer in the family gathering together around the dinner table often. I was fortunate to be raised in a family that put a big emphasis on the family eating together most nights of the week. My mother always had dinner on the table for us, no matter how hectic our schedules might be. So it is natural that I do the same for my family. What is not natural, however, is serving meals family-style. Especially with young children, it is often easier to plate the food in the kitchen and then serve it on the table. Maybe that is my restaurant background or again, goes back to the way that I grew up.
Though I truly believe serving family-style is better, especially since it really goes hand in hand with the Division of Responsibility in feeding. The parent decides what to eat and the child decides how much to eat or whether to eat at all. Children become competent and healthy eaters when the Division of Responsibility is followed. I am a big believer in this approach to feeding and teach it to my clients. I just have had a hard time making the switch to family-style service now that my son is old enough to serve himself.
It has required me to break my habit of quickly serving plates and to spend a few extra minutes getting the table all set. Yes, it is messy and yes, it means more dishes to wash. But the benefits far outweigh these potential drawbacks. I can actually enjoy sitting down to dinner sooner rather than getting up several times to get forgotten items or additional items that my family requests. And dinner time really does go much smoother for all of us.
I am less stressed as my job is done once the food is on the table. Sure, I have to help my son serve himself and occasionally have to pull my daughter off the table (who thinks at 20 months old it is perfectly acceptable to slither across the table on her belly to eat out of a big bowl of food). The biggest payoff though is the happiness I see radiating from my son as he gets to decide what and how much food to put on his plate. Of course my daughter is starting to insist on putting some food on her own plate too. Overall though, there is less arguing and whining and that is certainly worth washing a few extra dishes and then some!
Are you a fan of family-style meals?