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Family Dinner

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The clarity of abstinence illuminates my relationships with a more accurate light. My past behaviors require me now to demonstrate a willingness to be flexible and show my family, friends, and associates I’m different inside as well as outside. Here’s a specific example of how practicing the Steps in all my affairs has created a new normal in my life.

My children are picky eaters, a behavior foreign to me and one with which I find it difficult to be patient. Growing up, I ate whatever was served and as much of it as I could get. Short-order cooking for my picky kids has long been a sore spot, just one more battle in my war to control all the food in my life. Abstinence opened me to being willing to release old, ingrained patterns in my own behavior, but even then, I wasn’t sure how to fix this particular problem. Recently I read about techniques I hadn’t been willing to try before, including preparing the same meal for the whole family and allowing children to serve their own food. As I pondered the situation, I saw how shifting my attitude about meals could aid me in letting go of trying to control my children . . . and that would be healthier for both them and me.

I told my husband I thought we should try making some adjustments to how we planned and served dinner. He gently pointed out my past inflexibility about food and expressed concern that serving the same meal to all of us might require me to eat things outside my food plan. While my first instinct was to be defensive, my Higher Power helped me keep it in check, reminding me that my husband was trying to support my abstinence. I admitted that I had been rigid before, and told my husband that re-opening the subject for discussion was a sign I was trying to be more flexible. Together, we came up with a way to make it easier. We set out all the food on the kitchen counter where everyone would be able to serve up their own plates. That way, I could measure my food, the kids could help themselves to what they wished to eat, and I wouldn’t have serving dishes sitting in front of me at the table. We have been doing dinner this way ever since.

It’s a work in progress—but eliminating old power struggles around dinnertime has put the focus back on connecting with each other. More important, I’m proving to my family and myself that I’m willing to bend, to loosen my death-grip on food and meals. Doing the footwork allows me to continue to let go of control and be willing to change.

— Katie R., Ellensburg, Washington USA

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