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This Dad’s Trick for Getting Picky Kids to Eat Is Brilliant

Let’s just say he “retired” a little early...

Good Housekeeping

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There are some parenting issues that, no matter how old the kids are, just seem to come up again and again. Sleep. Trying to keep school germs at bay. And, always, food. No matter their age, finding meals that are both healthy and appetizing is one of the biggest puzzles of parenthood.

Reddit user BabyHooey understands this first-hand. He posted that his four kids, all between the ages of 10 and 16, were making dinner impossible. “There are literally no meals left that I can make without someone complaining,” he writes. “Spaghetti? I make my sauce with Italian sausage and one kid has decided she hates fennel. One kid has Celiac, which rules out wheat (obviously not her fault) so that makes it harder. One kid hates cheese, which rules out a lot of things. One kid hates chicken. We were safe for a while with tacos until one kid decided she was never eating tacos again.”

So, he did what was seemingly the last thing left to do: He retired from cooking. He purchased groceries at the store, stocked the shelves at home, and told everyone they're on their own for dinner. How did the experiment go?

For about two weeks, everyone lived off of sandwiches and cereal. At about that point, I started cooking for myself and my wife only, things that we like to eat and cook. Eventually, one kid said, “That smells really good, can I have some?” I said that I only made enough for the two of us, but if they'd like some of tomorrow's dinner, let me know and I can make extra. I was expecting, “What's tomorrow's dinner?” But instead I got, “Yes, please, anything's better than more sandwiches.” All of them eventually followed suit. I'm back to cooking for six, but I'm making whatever I want to make.

The dad goes on to explain that retirement was a success: The kids are more appreciative of the dinners he makes — and, if they don't like what's being served, they can always default back to Cheerios. “And surprisingly, sandwiches and cereal are being chosen very rarely,” he adds.

So, even though this went from retirement to a brief strike, I love this idea for two reasons: First, obviously, it takes the parent out of the role of short-order cook, and makes the kids more appreciative of the homemade meals they were being served. (If BabyHooey wants to come to my house and cook for my family, the invite is open — that Italian sausage sauce sounds great.)

But it also plants the seed that, at some point, all kids are probably going to be out on their own one day, and they’ll have to find their own dinner. And, unless they plan on a future full of cereal and cold cuts, they better start figuring out how they plan on feeding themselves. Going on a dinner strike really drives that point home. BabyHooey’s kids already got a glimpse of what it will be like. I bet they're taking notes now on how he makes his tacos.

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This post originally appeared on Good Housekeeping and was published January 22, 2019. This article is republished here with permission.

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