Yesterday, in part one, I posted about something in the book, Deceptively Delicious, that bothered me, but there is something that bothered me even more. I think this book helps prove the point that many parents, even in Christian homes, are no longer in control of their kids. How does food and a cookbook prove this?
Whatever happened to when mom said to do something, and the kids did it. If mom or dad said to eat your green beans, you ate them. I know when I was growing up when my dad told me to eat my peas, I ate them. I have seen a lot of homes recently where the kids control what and when things are done, including meal times. I think this shows the sad state of many of our homes.
My husband and I agreed early on that I was not running a restaurant in my kitchen. I would cook a meal and that is what we were eating. I would not cook one thing for one person and another for someone else. I can’t claim to be an expert in this area. My kids are still young, only 10, 8, and 6. But they are good eaters. My girls love spinach and asparagus. They love fresh tomatoes sliced with a little salt and pepper. They eat their fruits and vegetables.
How did we get them to eat them? First of all, we served a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. We exposed them to a variety of foods at a young age. They don’t find asparagus and spinach strange. Second, we taught our kids to eat what was served at a young age. Was this easy, no? Did it happen overnight? No. We had many meals when the kids were toddlers that did not go so well. But it was worth it.
Now meal time is very pleasant. Yes, there are things they do not especially like, but they have learned to eat them. If they don’t eat it, they go to bed hungry. That is the choice, and they choose to eat. I am not saying they have to eat a large bowl full of something that gags them, but they do have to eat a few bites. I really do not like peas or spinach, but I can and do eat them. Why? Because they are good for me, and because I want to set a good example for my kids.
When it comes to food and meal times, my husband and I decided it was a good place to start teaching our kids who was in control, us, not them. Our view on this was that it was one of the easiest places to start teaching them. If we could not get our three year old to eat their peas, how were we going to get our three year old to take their medicine that tasted bad for their severe ear infection? If we could not get our five year old to eat cauliflower, how could we keep him from hitting his sister? And how if our eight year old would not eat her dinner, could we get her to do her math? And if our thirteen year old fixed her own dinner because she did not like the one mom fixed, how were we going to keep her from leaving the house in an immodest outfit? Do you see my point? It is much easier to teach them who is in control at age three and four at the dinner table, than it is to start when they are thirteen.
We are surrounded by a me-me-me mentality. We have kids that run their house and run their parents. If you let them control mealtime, they will slowly control other areas. That is why I did not like this book. The book sees a problem, but assigns the wrong solution. I think this book is reinforcing the view that kids can control things. Kids can dictate what is done at meal times and other times. That view is far from what I believe and far from what I think is scriptural. It even actually adds to the problem.
I do not want to make it sound like we are perfect in this area. We have had many battles at meal times. Many times we were ready to give in and give up. But the battles we fought at meal time are paying off. My eight year old went through a time when she was three that she hated soup. I would set a bowl of it in front of her, and she would look at it and say “I can’t eat that”. Well, she soon learned that eating soup was better than going to bed with only a little dinner. Now she loves soup. My son has always hated pasta, any kind, mac and cheese, spaghetti, lasagna, and more. He has discovered though that he likes pasta with hot sauce. So, we let him put Tabasco on his pasta dishes, and now he likes pasta dishes.
My oldest daughter went through a time when she was very picky. She refused to eat almost anything. We decided that we had to do something because meal time was miserable. We told her she had to eat her dinner, or she would see it for breakfast. She did not eat it, so she was served leftover broccoli casserole for breakfast the next day. Well, she decided she was not going to eat it for breakfast, and so I served it for lunch. After all there is nothing wrong with serving your child leftovers. She then realized that I meant what I said, and she would continue to see it until she ate it. She also realized that it would have tasted better if she had eaten it the night before for dinner.
This had gone past her dislike of the meal. It had become a battle of who would win. I was determined that I must win it. If I let her win she would try to win in other areas. At lunch she finally decided to eat what was put before her. We have had very little meal time problems with her since then.
And just so you do not think I am too terrible, this same daughter does not like jelly. Why? I don’t know. When I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I usually just give her just peanut butter. I am not going to force her to like something like jelly that is probably not all that good for you anyway. I do compromise occasionally. But if I do put jelly on it, she does eat it.
Did I enjoy serving my daughter leftover broccoli casserole for breakfast and again for lunch? No, it was hard. The food looked terrible first thing in the morning. But I knew it had to be done. Was it easy to serve my daughter soup, having her continually telling me she could not eat it? No. It would have been much easier at the time to fix her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. But I was trying to see the big picture. A few unpleasant meals then, were well worth the time it took. We enjoy our mealtime now. I have had many people tell me how good my kids eat. I am so glad we took the time to train them in this area. We are hoping we continue to see the benefits in other areas as well.
Next week I will post some of the things we did to encourage our kids to eat a variety of foods without being deceptive.
Have you seen the book Deceptively Delicious? What do you think of the idea?