Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Parenting Post

With over a decade of parenting three active boys I feel I have a right to an opinion – okay, many opinions - on child rearing children under the age of twelve. Anything to do with children older than 12.75 years is your business and frankly anything pertaining to raising girls is something I’ll respectfully stay silent on. But boys between zero and thirteen are my specialty. I’ll be peppering my blog with this scandalous content intermittently so stay tuned.

Opinion Number One:

You aren’t doing them a favor letting them be picky eaters. Imagine your little angel meeting his future in-laws. MIL to-be starts to spoon a serving of green beans onto the fine china plate in front of him and he looks at her in horror. Or worse he gags at the thought of putting a green vegetable into his mouth. Imagine he’s on a business trip with his boss and they all go to a restaurant. He can’t order anything because he only eats white food and the very sight of condiments sicken him.

Seriously folks. I see this sort of mealtime shenanigans all the time when out with other parents. Do you really think they’ll grow out of it? Not if you keep pandering to them they won’t. Take it from *this* picky eater. All you are providing them with is a lifetime of balking and worry when faced with strange food.

One of our sons will literally throw up at the table when presented with a new food that he finds objectionable. Knowing this, we still require him to have one miniscule serving – usually a tablespoon full. Since they were little I’ve told them it takes thirty-six experiences with a new food to get used to it and feel friendly towards it. Since no one counts how many times they’ve encountered baked beans they just assume “friendliness” with the new food is just a few more “visits” away. And as the years passed and terror towards jambalaya has turned to a great love of it, apple crisp, once a strange, lumpy and fruit-laden (ewwww!) dish is now so highly prized it’s asked for at birthdays. My boys have learned from their own personal experiences that “The Rule of Thirty-Six” is basically infallible.

Parents: Quit making life harder for your kids. Every time you let them shrink away from new experiences you’re sentencing them to a life of fear. Do you really want to raise an adult who is afraid of a nice chowder?

6 comments:

Laura O'Donnell said...

aaah! my daughter, and also my husband are both pickey eaters. And not about the same stuff. when I was working full time it was actually easier to make different foods for each of us. when I became a sahm I was determined to find recipes that we cold all eat, and after many trials I now have several in the rotation. the pickeyness is tough with my daughter, esp with my husband not backing me up.

CathyR said...

Amen! I've always been somewhat of a picky eater. My parents did the same thing you do. We always had to have a bite of everything that was on the table even if we didn't like it. We did the same thing with our daughter and she is still pretty picky.

Now that I'm older, I find myself wanting to try new things, especially when we travel. There are still things that I won't eat (never met a green pea that I liked unless it was in soup!) but I keep trying new things all the time.

Angela said...

OH so glad I am not alone in this one. :)

I always tell my kiddos and DH for that matter that I am not a restaurant. It really is tough 'cause my DH's parents really coddled him, but he is coming around very slowly.

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

I suddenly feel better about making Bayley eat his salmon tonight.

With more than one, the pickiness rubs off...Hayden balked at eating the salmon when Bayley started in. When he realized I was done backing down (New year's resolution) he ate his salmon and salad...and then some of my salmon...

Grace? Eats like a champ so far. My goal is to break the boys of the picky habit before she learns it. We'll see how that works for me ;)

chksngr said...

LOVE this...although mine at two is not particularly picky except when it comes to veggies. There are some he devours and some he won't touch. And forcing him to eat a bit is a tough one.

I have two tricks: I've discovered that if I'm DESPERATE for him to eat veggies (which isn't honestly very often) I can put it in rice and call it "fried rice" and he will eat it. He loves "fried rice" and will devour it pretty much any way I make it. lol...

My other trick is that he wants what we have - so if we are having broccoli, I put it on my plate first. Then when he wants some, i take it directly off my plate...food disappears faster than you could believe that way.

One thing I cannot get him to eat - eggs. In no way, shape or form will eggs cross his lips...unless they are in a baked good. sigh...

The Everaert Family said...

Nicole, I am so frustrated as well by parents that don't expose their kids to different foods. Not only so they experience new things, but for their HEALTH, for goodness sake! I am considered the freakish mom who serves "weird" food by my 10 year-old son's friends. Several won't eat a meal at our house. Heaven forbid I actually expect them to eat something as 'out there' as squash or broccoli, or a salad! My son has a friend who actually ate his first pear at my house this year. I kid you not. The kid is ten. Insanity.