Thursday, April 09, 2009

Privilege and Responsibility

Our 4-1/2 year daughter has never been much of an eater. She often leaves over half of her meals on the plate, claiming she is no longer hungry. While this is a minor irritation at home, I consider it a bigger issue when eating out. Specifically, I don't like paying for an overpriced child's menu item, only to have her take one or two bites. Our solution usually is to have her share a meal with a parent.

For our last few outings, our daughter has accepted that she would share a meal. However, today at lunch, she was adamant about ordering the macaroni and cheese kid's meal. Just having some french fries from my meal wasn't no longer going to suffice. Of course, we could have held our position and not let her order. Instead, we accepted the opportunity to make this a teachable moment on privilege and responsibility.

We let her know that she could have the privilege of ordering her own lunch. However, it was her responsibility to finish the meal. We told her if she didn't finish her meal, that she would lose the privilege of ordering in the future when eating at a restaurant.

We were pleasantly surprised by her response. Not being a fan of losing privileges, our daughter did a great job of eating her meal. In fact, my spouse was satisfied when the meal was three quarters finished. However, being the tough negotiator that I am, I encouraged her to eat 100%, which she did, apparently understand the responsibility she had.

At the end of the meal, I think everyone was happy. We all had a great lunch. Our daughter was able to order her own lunch. She finished the entire main dish. I didn't feel like we wasted money on a kid's meal. Most important, I think our daughter received a good life lesson on privilege and responsibility.

For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

This is not financial or parenting advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

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