My Kids Eat Dinner In Front Of The TV All The Time

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Kids Eating Dinner With TVMy name is Heather and I have a shameful secret:

I let my kids eat in front of the TV. And not like just for special occasions, mind you. All. The. Time.

The 10-year-old has a schmantzy video-gaming chair parked near the TV. And his three-year-old little sister has her cute little pink polka-dotted chair right next to his.

Am I proud of this? Not especially.

But if I had to name my parenting style, I’d go with “choose your battles.” And dinner in front of the boob tube is one in which I’ve chosen not to wage war.

In our house, TV makes a perfectly lovely dinner guest.

Back when our big kid was itty-bitty, he had little interest in food. And he had the growth chart to prove it. The pediatrician made me so bonkers trying to get the kid to eat, I’d literally chase him around the living room with a spoonful of YoBaby. We’d tell him stories. We beg him to take just … three … more … bites.

Then we put the whole situation in the capable hands of Dora and her adventurous cousin, Diego. And you know what? He started eating.

He’s almost as tall as me now, often requests two dinners and no longer wants to vamonos with Dora. But he still eats his buttered noodles parked in front of the TV – though now he’s usually reading a book or watching Mythbusters for distraction.

The little one? She’s a much more enthusiastic eater, but she copied him. And her generation gets Netflix! Unlimited kiddie shows and no commercials.

I know. I know. Think of the family time we’re missing! We should all be sitting around the dinner table, crafting our gratitude diary entries for the day! I should be employing family meals as teachable moments for so many valuable life lessons!

I totally agree. And if you do those things, you have my great respect.

Google “letting your child eat in front of the TV” and you get reams of in-depth scientific research articulating why this is a very bad idea. (It all pretty much boils down to: Don’t do it because your spawn will become fat, lazy and stupid.)

But, sometimes, dinner is just dinner. And sometimes Mama wants to enjoy her glass of cabernet without a lot of chit-chat, you know?

And, despite my best efforts, our kids are neither fat, lazy nor stupid.

Sure, they like to take their PB&Js in front of the television. But how long does it take to eat a sandwich? We still get plenty of hours in a day to talk and color and read and write and yell at each other. For the record, they fare pretty well in restaurants when we – gasp! – actually have to talk to one another. (OK. OK. Yes. I admit it. The little one sometimes gets to play with my iPad.  Yes. I’m one of those moms. )

Besides, I know plenty of folks whose memories of family dinners were not nearly as Rockwellian as one would envision. Lots of stony, angry silence. Or yelling and complaints. But, hey, at least they were together!

Don’t get me wrong. I love food. I have a culinary degree and relish few things more than some nice conversation over a nice dinner. I wish my kids didn’t have picky palates and happily ate everything I made for dinner. It’d certainly be nice, on occasion, to sit down as a family to a meal.

But they’re happy and healthy and growing. And they’re articulate and entertaining little people. We always have plenty to talk about.

Heck, at the very least we can discuss what they watched on TV while they ate their dinner.

(Image: Teresa Kasprzycka /shutterstock)