When children start making their own school lunch

Dear Diane, My three kids are 15, 12 and 9. This year my partner and I decided that our days of making school lunches...

Dear Diane,

My three kids are 15, 12 and 9. This year my partner and I decided that our days of making school lunches are over and we’re going to stay in bed for an extra 10 minutes in the morning. The younger two took to this new system immediately, and they make their lunches the night before. The 15-year-old boy is a different story.

He can’t tear himself away from the Xbox long enough to make anything decent and usually just throws a couple of pieces of bread together with peanut butter and tosses in an apple and a bottle of water. It’s just not enough for a growing boy but he won’t discuss it, which makes me very frustrated.

Do I go back to making his lunch myself, so I can be sure he’s getting something decent? Or should it just be his lookout?

Suzie, Kaipara

Dear Suzie,

Your 15-year-old is behaving very normally for his age and stage, but that still doesn’t make too much Xbox and too little lunch a good idea. You will get stuck if you try to link the two issues, so let’s separate them. The best way to talk to a 15-year-old is when you are driving him somewhere.

There is something about being side by side (as opposed to glaring at each other), moving at 50km/h with no way of escaping, that makes for more successful interaction. In terms of adequate lunchtime nutrition, your son is making himself an excellently healthy lunch – protein, carbs, fruit and hydration. The only worry is quantity. Ask him if he gets enough to see him through.

If the answer is “Yes”, apologise and explain. “I am sorry I am behaving like a mother, but I worry you are not getting enough to see you through.” That way you have expressed your concern without getting into an argument. He may or may not reflect on what you have said. Let it go. On another trip, talk to him about how addictive Xbox is and make an arrangement that he gets a time-limited Xbox break after school and a second one after homework and chores are done.

Diane Levy provides expert answers to your parenting queries. Send your questions to: [email protected] Diane’s parenting books are available in bookshops.

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