Parenting Done Right: The Fussy Eater
So I Am Sitting At The Mall...
At the food court. Eating Chinese food cause I like Chinese food. There are lots of families there, but one is catching my attention. I'm not saying I have some special power of observation, I'm sure they were getting everyone's attention. At 85 decibels its hard to not be the center of attention.
It was a young child who was the siren that disrupted all of our meals. Apparently, he did not want a sandwich from Charley's, He wanted Chicken Nuggets. We watched as the mother tried to talk to the child. Apparently, at first he wanted a sandwich from Charley's but changed his mind after he got it, and wanted chicken nuggets from the Chick-fil-a knock off place that I never go to cause it taste like banquet chicken patties instead of delicious fried chicken.
But that didn't matter now, the child wanted chicken nuggets. Before it was all over with, not only did the child get chicken nuggets, but was promised a trip to Toy's R Us if he was quite.
Now, Let's save the debate on corporal punishment and bribery. Let's talk about fussy eaters.
Most Good Parenting Advice Is Funny
If you haven't noticed yet, parenting is not for the faint of heart. Also, if you have a really difficult job, like a police officer, or a surgeon, where sometimes you have to look at really disturbing things, you tend to learn to find humor in it. If you don't it drives you crazy.
Think about this as you talk to parents who treat raising their child as some sacred duty that has no room for humor. You want proof that you need to have a sense of humor when being a parent, please look at the picture to your right.
So Here Is A Joke
I was talking with a friend long before I was a parent, and he told me this joke:
This guy I know had this dog, and last time I went to see him, that dog looked so good and healthy, and his coat was thick and shiny, I just had to ask him "Jim, what did you do to get your dog looking this good?" Jim smiled and said " I feed him nothing but collard greens."
Wow I told myself, I'm going to do this. So I went home and took some raw collard greens, put them in a bowl, and my dog wouldn't touch them. So then I tried mixing his food with it, and he would just pick out his food and leave the greens. I tried cooking them, adding flavor like bacon drippings, when I put whole bacon in it he just picked out the bacon. Finally I went back to Jim and told him I couldn't get my dog to eat the greens.
He said "Oh he won't the first three or so days, but he'll come around."
So I asked what he fed him during those days, he just shook his head and walked away.
The story wasn't true, but he told me like it was, and it elicited a certain shock you know? I thought things like "that's so cruel to starve a dog for three days." and "That man should go to jail."
Then I had a child.
So You Have Options
A little assertiveness and care for your own sanity says a lot about how you feel about your child. Also, sometimes your tired, and some options presented don't allow for this.
When you are going to have dinner with your child, cause legally you have obligations to make sure they get fed, you can:
- Always eat chicken nuggets, corn dogs, pizza, and French fries, and dip everything in ketchup.
- You can go through painstaking steps like grinding up vegetables to hide in pizza sauce or ketchup, or hide it in pasta, etc.. There are plenty of ideas in this category that you can research.
- You can give them a plate of the same stuff you have to eat.
Option 1 is going to cause nutrition issues in both your child and yourself, I wouldn't condone this kind of decision, far be it from me to tell you how to raise your kid and live your life. But I am entitled to my own opinion, doing this is in my opinion stupid, and arguably dangerous.
Option 2 may sound like something clever where you are being smarter than the kid. First of all you are doing a lot of unnecessary work, second the outside world is not going to revolve around your kid and do special things like always grind up vegetables to hide them, and if you think that it doesn't change the taste, you're crazy.
Option 3 is going to be difficult, you are going to have to do things like let them go on a hunger strike when they are determined to eat a cheeseburger instead of pork chops and green beans. Don't let people make you believe this is abuse. I have been accused of abusing my child because when I set a plate of perfectly safe healthy food in front of them they refused to eat, and I let them refuse to the point they went to bed hungry. This hurt and then I had an epiphany.
You are going to have to have thick skin if you want to be a parent, take an honest look at other people's kids. Are you envious of the way they act? Yeah I had the same answer, so I made a little backboard for my trash can with the word "Advisement" This is where I file most peoples ideas on how I should raise my child. You should too, my ideas included, only use them if you see them working for you.
Here is a link to a video of my 4 year old eating salad though.
What do you do when your kid refuses to eat?
Look, like so many things with being an adult one thing you have to understand is that as a parent, sometimes you are going to have accept you are not going to win. Let me drop the tough guy don't care attitude a second. I love my kid, she is the most important thing in my life and my greatest accomplishment when I die I want to be the legacy that I leave in her, the values she has, and the things she goes to do that I couldn't because she has surpassed me in so many ways. That being said I can't give her that, she has to earn it. So when the kid refuses to eat dinner, and you say ok, and send them to bed hungry, that is not a victory for you, that hurts, a lot, but would you rather teach them that they can refuse and then they get what they want? Do you want to resolve to teaching them that everyone loves them so much that they will go through extra work to make sure they don't notice the bad things in life? Or do you want them to know that sometimes you get what you get? Pork chops and green beans are not bad. Might not be what you want, but hey, tomorrow is another day.
Something we would do is box up dinner if she didn't eat and that was what she got for lunch. I've seen it go on for a few days, she was stubborn, like her mom and dad. But she broke eventually, now she likes pork chops and green beans. Course sometimes you get evidence that you clearly communicated the desire for green beans.
They Are People Too
You have to get their input sometimes though, they should be able to chose some nights. I mean they are members of the family. If your going out to eat and you don't already have a plan, ask what they want. Sometimes they say "Quesadilla!" and boom, your eating Mexican food, that's cool. If your telling them that you are cooking corn and they say they don't feel like corn, can they have beans instead, that's not horrible, and it's not bargaining with the child to concede to that kind of request if possible, why did you chose corn, cause it was what was in the pantry?
If the corn is already cooking just tell them its already cooking, you can have beans tomorrow. Then keep your word, all this stuff means nothing if they can't trust you. They need to learn they can trust you when you say that if you don't eat that you are going hungry, and also when you say that they can have what they want tomorrow.
So when you ask yourself why is your kid a fussy eater, be honest why, is it cause they don't like stuff, or cause they know how to get different stuff they think they want. My kid doesn't like sweet potatoes So I don't make her eat them, she has tried them, but sometimes people just don't like stuff. I don't like eggs, so I don't eat them.
Make your decision on how you want to raise your kid do what is best for them AND yourself, leave a comment in the comment section, follow me on twitter @morgaren or on Facebook. Always remember it's not a science, it's an art.