This article is in honor of my mother’s 70th birthday today.

Thanks Mom for not letting me run the show.

Granny’s kitchen was the center of the family universe. Everyone gathered there not only to eat, but to interact.

But make no mistake, Granny ran the show in the kitchen and no child had a vote.

You knew instinctively not to open a pot lid or ask what was for dinner.

Any family member who dared such blasphemy would be met with, “ooo, uh oh,” from the others before finding themselves facing the wrath of Granny alone.

No one wanted to be a material witness so they scattered quickly.

All kidding aside – juvenile diabetes is nothing to joke about. Childhood obesity is one of the causes. It can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and even stroke. There is nothing funny about that.

You can help prevent this from happening to your child by controlling the foods they have access to at home and making sure that they have a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.

So, in an effort to help parents enjoy their parenting more fully, I bring you part 2 of Common Parental Delusions – Food Fights – Are You Kidding Me?

It has come to my attention that mealtime is less than pleasant in many an American household. Mealtime should be one of the most pleasant family times of the day. If you find that you and your children are engaging in Food Fights rather than pleasant family gatherings, you are delusional.

The following tips will help you out:

  1. Health vs. Happiness
  2. Don’t confuse your child
  3. Anorexic toddlers don’t exist
  4. Dictatorships not democracies
  5. Hunger heals anger

Health vs. Happiness

Before I go into another rant about child rearing, let me remove all confusion about how I feel about home.

Home should be a safe and happy place to land.

Screaming, yelling, belittling and physical violence makes everyone unhappy, so stop your child from doing it. You deserve peace when you come home.

All parents want their children to grow up with memories of a happy childhood. You work toward that by providing comfort, safety, encouragement and love. You also do your best to keep them healthy.

BUT that doesn’t mean that you allow your child to run the house. You have been put in charge for a reason.

You have more experience, you know more; at least you should.

Your child is depending on you for guidance. Give it to them. They don’t know what they are doing.

Note, I didn’t say that they will always like your guidance. Too bad, they will get over it.

Your first responsibility as a PARENT is to provide for your child’s health, not their happiness.

Say it aloud – HEALTH before HAPPINESS.

If you can combine the two, great; but if you must choose, HEALTH is first. No one can be truly happy if they are not healthy.

McDonald’s Mythology

Listen carefully. Happy Meals are not part of a Healthy diet, otherwise they would be called Healthy Meals and they are not.

If a Happy Dance does not accompany each Happy Meal, then your child has received too much happy and not enough healthy. McDonalds should be the exception, not the rule. It should be a treat to eat at McDonalds, not an every night dinner destination.

Save McDonalds for a special occasion.

Note: Tuesday is not a special occasion.

You can paint some golden arches on your kitchen wall and tell your child that they are at McDonalds to make the transition smoother. Your two year old can’t read and lying is an important part of the parenting experience.

Neglecting Nutrition

Neglecting to provide good nutrition for your child is neglect. Stop neglecting your children.

I was a working mom, so I understand the time thing. What could be more important than making time for your child’s health? That’s why they invented crock pots.

Everything tastes good in a crock pot as long as you add an onion. They even sell vegetables that are already cut up. Throw them in the crock pot, put it in the fridge at night, get up in the morning, turn it on low and have a healthy meal when you get home. It’s actually quicker than a drive-thru, I timed it.

You can also cook huge meals on the weekend and have leftovers during the week. Most vegetables take 10 minutes or less (yes, I said veggies) to cook.

State of Confusion

Some children can’t tell the difference between a kitchen and a restaurant.

It is up to you to teach them. You may wish to use flashcards as a visual aid. Granny’s quote is also helpful.

In a restaurant, one gets a menu and can choose the foods that they’d like to eat. In a kitchen, one gets to eat the food that is prepared for them.

Now I am a picky eater, so I do understand that kids will not eat everything. I will starve to death before I will put coconut anywhere near my nose or mouth.

Here’s where you must do your homework. There is a difference between I don’t like that to I don’t want to eat that today, fix me something else.

In the first instance, don’t make them eat it.

In the second instance, let them choose between eating what you cooked or starvation.

One of my kids hated tomatoes. I wasn’t going to force him to eat them. When I made tomatoes, I also provided an alternative such as cucumbers so that he could still have a vegetable (yes I said vegetable again), too.

If I served something new (oysters do not look appetizing) I would ask them to try one taste. If they didn’t like it, I would make a mental mommy note.

When I introduced a new food, I always provided an alternative in case they didn’t like it. But I never became a short-order cook.

Kids need to learn how to make decisions. As an adult, you must give them an opportunity to do so but limit their choices (too many choices lead to confusion.)

Eat it or leave it.

Anorexia Myth

What if they decide not to eat?

Did it ever dawn on you that the child is just not hungry?

There is no such thing as an anorexic toddler.

A toddler’s stomach is only about as big as our fist. They just don’t have room for all that food we try to stuff them with. Put tiny portions on their plates so that you don’t overwhelm them. Give them more if they ask for it.

They also need to have consistent meal times. You can’t expect their little systems to know when it’s time to eat if dinner is at 6:00 one day and 10:00 the next.

Sit down for a half hour at relatively the same times each day and you’ll amaze your family and friends at how well your child will eat.

Stop making mealtime such a production. Sit the family down, turn off the TV and EAT. Get off the phone and TALK to each other (you know, the people who are sitting with you, not the ones across town.)

Why can’t you put your phone on vibrate for a half hour? What is more urgent than your family?

If your house is burning down, you’ll know before you get the text anyway, so give your family a little attention.

Creating a pleasant family meal time will make dinner ENJOYABLE every day.

What? Mean old Bliss wants kids to enjoy something?

OK. I’ll add some more of that PARENTING stuff just to make you happy. Guess what – you can use mealtime to introduce your children to table manners. A child should master some of our non-spork utensils by the time they start school.

Happy now?

Mealtimes are supposed to be as much about interacting as eating. They were once a bonding experience.  What happened to Ward and June Clever?

You can bring the bonding back, but no one wants to bond with someone who is shoving unwanted food in their mouths or whining about what you are not eating.

Will you please relax and enjoy your family?

Dictatorship vs. Democracy

What would you think about a 35 year old whose best friend is 5?

Right – there is something wrong with them.

Repeat carefully – I AM A PARENT, NOT A FRIEND. Say this several times until it sinks in.

If you raise them correctly, your children will have lots of friends. You are not one of them. You are too old.

You can be their friend once they become parents and realize that you are not as stupid as they once thought you were.

This is not the time.

If you think that becoming their friend will keep the lines of communication open between you, YOU ARE DELUSIONAL.

You will only know what they want you to know and nothing more – EVER. Live with it.

My 27 year olds have suddenly found the need to confess their childhood escapades. You don’t want to know, really you don’t. Some of them I cannot share because I am not sure if the statute of limitations has expired.

I am wondering if they think I’m going to die soon.

Whoever told you that families are democracies, lied. They are not. Remember, children do not have voting rights for a reason.

Groceries

Families are dictatorships run by whoever pays for the groceries, as it should be.

Children should not be permitted to decide which brand of anything you purchase. They do not have access to the family finances. As the wage-earning adult, you have the absolute right to choose the generic cereal over the name brand with the toy inside.

You worked, they didn’t, no justification necessary.

Until you get the hang of saying NO, leave the kids with a sitter when you go to the grocery store. Put the generic cereal in a Rubbermaid container and tell them that you lost the toy.

However you handle it, groceries are not up for discussion or a vote.

The Final Stronghold

Once you have control over the groceries, the next strategic stronghold is the fridge. Stock it full of fruit, not junk food. They can’t eat it if it’s not there, now can they?

My grandson actually thinks grapes are candy and we don’t see a need to correct him.

Don’t buy soda; buy fruit juice, or even better, water. Photoshop some colorful labels so the kids think they are drinking a bottle of sugar.

Lying is fair, remember?

You can also fool your kids by saving your McDonald’s cups, rinsing them out and putting juice or milk and a straw in them. Fill them with water, ice and a little food coloring. They’ll never know the difference.

What they eat in school is a different subject for another blog. I still say that ketchup is not a vegetable but I am glad that at least some schools have the sense not to serve pink slime anymore. What kind of sick mind puts ammonia in food? Do you realize that ammonia is one of the primary chemicals in urine?

Sorry about the mini-rant – back to the subject at hand.

How do you get your kids to eat vegetables?

I put them on their plate.

Vegetables are plural, not singular. See, there are hundreds maybe thousands of vegetables to choose from in a rainbow of colors.  Some are sweet, some are not.

Not many children like brussel’s sprouts, but lots of kids love corn on the cob (although corn can be difficult to digest.) Sweet peas and red beets were a favorite around my house because they were sweet and colorful.

Explore the world beyond green beans and introduce your children to the fun of nutrition. You can even take them to the farmer’s market and let them pick out a veggie that looks interesting (like eggplant – purple is very interesting to kids.)

By all means, DO NOT TELL THEM THAT THEY ARE VEGGIES!!!

Lie to them; tell them that they are a new French Fry flavor or something.

If you start feeding them veggies when you start giving them solid food, they don’t have a clue that they are not supposed to like them.

For crying out loud, why are you telling them? Adults are permitted to have secrets, you know. Secrets and lies go hand in hand in the parenting world.

Now, here is the tough part – YOU need to eat veggies, too. You must lead by example, so find a veggie or two that YOU like and eat them in front of your kids. Smack your lips for effect.

Veggies and fruit should be a part of every meal. Although raw is more nutritional, do whatever you have to. The more veggies they eat, the less room they have for junk food.

DO NOT ruin perfectly good veggies by adding sugar.

Where is Popeye when you need him?

Hunger Heals Anger

Almost as soon as your child learns to talk, they will tell you that they are mad at you or even worse, they hate you.

That means that you are doing your job. Good work.

Don’t fret, you control the food supply. Their anger will dissipate with the first pangs of missed meal cramps.

Who knows, you may even get a hug in exchange for food.

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About living4bliss

Mental Health Food is the place to stop to get your bliss on everyday. I give tips, hints and sometimes a little silliness to help you navigate the challenges of life. We have a great community of positive bloggers that keep the bliss going all day every day. Make sure to visit their blogs, too. Mental Health Food is a product of Believing Life Is Setup for Success, Inc. (B.L.I.S.S.) in Thornton, CO. We have been in the business of teaching success since 1991. We provide workshops, consulting services and now videos that help people just like you start and maintain successful businesses and personal lives using what you already have. Enjoy a daily dose of Mental Health Food; nourishment for the mind.

4 responses »

  1. You know I had to read this when I saw Granny’s picture. It was my mom’s 69th birthday yesterday. Growing up, our home was not a restaurant, our home was not a democracy, and Tuesday was not a holiday. Great article. Well said.

  2. I never had any of those problems. As soon as my son started eating solid food, he ate whatever I gave him. If he spit it out, I’d spoon it up and put it right back into his mouth. He learned to eat whatever I fed him, and I fed him a well-balanced diet. It really paid off because today he’s a grown man who cooks/eats a well-balanced diet. And he’s doing the same thing with his two daughters. YAY!!

    • living4bliss says:

      Same with us (except the tomato thing) but I hear so many parents ask how I get my kids to eat veggies. Like you, that was part of their diet as soon as they ate solid food.

      My kids, too eat healthy. My son shares custody of his son and when he is with my son, the baby eats a well-balanced diet.

      It’s all in how you are raised.

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