Monday, August 2, 2010

To Be Picky or Not to Be Picky: that is not optional

Warning: this post is not for the faint hearted mother!

It will sound a little tough, but if you are a young mother, it may give you some hope as you 'train up your child in the way they should eat'!

When I had one child, I could let him be a little picky, if he wanted. I could afford a little waste at that time and I really didn't consider eating 'healthy' and frugally', as much as I do now. I must admit that I was young and very naive. :-)

But now that there are 6, five being boys and all six of them eating far more than I ever dreamed....health and frugality and developing character, have become part of their training.

Part of the training started when I learned a couple of verses from the Bible.
1 Cor 10:27 ..... whatsoever is set before you, eat....
Phil 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
I told them that this meant "grumbling and complaining".

It was very important to me, and still is (and still is a teaching process ;), that they learn to eat what was put before them without grumbling and complaining. If you read the context of the verse from Corinthians it will fit into the following little story.

My missionary friend told me about visiting a family in the country she was living in. She said she was the "guest of honor" so to speak, and that meant that she got the goat head. Yes, the whole head. She said if she had not ate it, it would have offended the people very much and she would not have had a chance to tell them about the Lord.

I don't know what the Lord will do with my children, but I have high hopes. And, if they are ever on the mission field and are served a goat head, I want them to eat it, so they can tell them about Jesus! :-)

There are times I offer really weird (to our family) foods and allow them the choice of trying it, but if its fixed at meal time and put on their plate, its theirs to eat! :-)

I also sometimes give them the opportunity to tell me what they like and don't like. I know some of them do NOT like fresh tomatoes, yet, they are still served fresh tomatoes. I do give mercy, and give those who like them more and those who don't less, but nonetheless, if its on their plate, they must eat it. :-)

Another important reason that I do this, is because their pediatrician told me when they were little, to keep offering a food, even if they did not like it. He said if it is offered repeatedly over a 6 month period of time, they will begin to "acquire a taste for it". I have found this to be true in most cases. My oldest recently shocked some relatives when he dove for brussel sprouts when they took him out to a food bar!

Another very tough point, that I realize may not fit into some of your parenting styles, and if so, I ask that no one be offended, but just consider the following.

When your children were little, it was natural to them to soil their diaper, but you taught them not to. It was natural for them to sneeze and cough and not cover their mouth, but you taught them to do so. It seemed natural for them to burp whenever they felt the urge or to make other naughty noises, but you taught them that these things were not proper and appropriate in the company of others. ....Right? Well, as tough as this may sound, when they are little, you can likewise teach them not to gag on their food. You don't have to be mean or unkind at all. (I also know that a few children may have health reasons that may make this impossible for some....so please take no offense.)

I watched a friend of mine, whose children were older than mine teach her children in this manner; if they started to spit out their food or gag, she would say in a kind voice, "no no, don't do that, you could choke'' or "don't spit your food out, that's not proper in front of people". She also babysat a lot of children through the years and she said she had taught all of them the same thing. She added that one little fellow never did gag at her house but several times when she had been to his house, he had complained about food and when his mother told him that he had to eat it, he began to gag and she let him down from the table. :-)

I watched her, and used a similar approach with my children and was delightfully surprised that it worked! But I will say, if I had waited until they were older, I am not so sure that I could have gotten the behavior under as much control. Also, I have read of some children rejecting food and it turned out that they were allergic to that food, so those things must be considered and I also understand that this may not bother some mothers at all. This post is ONLY my opinion and MY personal experience, it is non-judgmental.

That said, my children are older now and it is always understood that God gave us our food and we are to eat what's put before us with thanksgiving.

Are they always perfect about their food and sweet spirited? No- but neither am I. :-)
We are all mere humans, and though we strive to be our best, we sometimes fall short.
But the idea is; training. Training means a process and that is what I am doing in our home.

I couldn't fix 8 different things, nor can I afford expensive fun foods for every meal, and they have seen firsthand, the benefits of eating more healthy food(they go long periods without being sick and they often recuperate quickly). I've also made them aware of our food budget and that we must stay within that budget and that means eating frugal foods that aren't every one's favorite all the time.(Thankful they all LOVE beans!) Some meals everyone likes, others are hit and miss. I try to fix things that I know are tolerable for all of them. But that toleration has been a process of feeding them varieties as the Lord provided, trying to fix them in ways that appeal to them the most, offering them repeatedly, and making sure that even during times that is was new and maybe they didn't like it yet, they still had to eat a spoon of it ;-)

My last point on this was considering how my children might act, as children, at another person's home when they were offered food. I want them to be grateful for anything that they are given. Someone had to work and earn money for that food, that is no small matter, and I would not want them to not be thankful for some one's willingness to share their food with them.

Again, this post is non-judgmental. I only wanted to share this perspective and approach, from a FRUGAL point of view....simply as food for thought! ;-)

4 comments:

M & M said...

Thanks for the reminder of the verses that go along with the firm line.
I am fighting a battle right now (for the past year) with my 2 year old...his diet consists of 2-3 options (at least somewhat healthy) and the rest is refused. I don't want him to grow up picky--for the same reason as your missionary story; besides neither my husband nor I are at all. IT takes so much more energy to make a separate dinner for him. I have begun force feeding a few bites of our dinner(ingredients I know he likes separately). I am not opposed to let him go hungry, but it is such exhausting work, multiple times a day!

Great reminder to stay firm and teach him the verses, even now.

Countrymama said...

Personally I'm the "one bite" kind of mom when it comes to my 3 yr old. He eats really well most of the time but there are some thing he just won't eat. He hates baked beans but I had him try atleast one bite. He still hates them but I make a point to put a small amount on his plate in case he wants to try them again. He may never like them but I want him to have the option for change.

Donna said...

M,
You are right, it is hard work!
But, may I encourage you with my kids? They eat anything I put on their plate....everything you see on my blog, they eat :-) or have at least tried. They now will ask for certain veggies that most kids would NEVER eat.

They may at times tell me that they don't like certain foods very much, but now they range in age from 8 to 18, and years and years have gone by with NO protests at the table.

They will eat everything from fried liver to asparagus to spinach. 3 of them LOVE liver, one in particular will eat as many servings of spinach as I will put on their plate, and they all will eat the liver saying "its not that bad" ;-)

There is a light at the end of the tunnel of table training! It does get better! :-)

Donna said...

Countrymama,
That is very similar to what I did when they were little. Even now, the ones who don't like, say brussel sprouts, well, they still get 2 on their plate...it used to be one, but they are all bigger now.

When babies/toddlers, the foods that were peculiar were only given in small amounts- "one bite" or "one spoon" on their plate....babies need baby steps and those "one bites" add up! And they are enough to help them learn to eat a food, at least I've seen that to be true :-)

Thank you for posting! :-)