We have a 6 year old son and food time is often a struggle. My son is not interested in food (and more enticing food seems to make very little difference), and is very easily distracted, making him a slow eater. [A key concern is he is generally very slow to perform most tasks compared to his peer group.]
One parent believes that if he is hungry he will eat, and thinks nothing of engaging him in conversation, and believes that if the child is hungry he will eat, and that learning to converse and interact at the table is important. This parent is not the primary care giver and has less time to spend with the child (but is part of the family unit and involved with the child’s upbringing, save that the child has a lot of activities and heavy homework requirements)
The other parent has an expectation that there is to be no conversation with him (other than encouragement to eat) so that he will focus on eating. This parent is of the strong opinion that if the kid does not eat a proper amount for every meal, on a structured timetable the kid will fall behind (growth wise, intelligence wise, discipline wise). The child normally more-or-less manages to eat to this timetable when not interrupted with distractions - although meal times are often unpleasant due to fighting.
Are there any accepted norms on how to handle a child who is simply not interested in food, and how important is it that a reluctant child is "well fed" every meal?