Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Parenting, Discipline & Food

I'll let you in on a little secret; I am not so into discipline. And I really should be. Both for myself and our kids. Here's an example. The recurring battle at our house every evening is supper. What are we having? Whatever we are having, Grace doesn't want it. After all the work of planning, shopping, preparing and cooking, even if it was something we have had before and she devoured, she doesn't like it, she doesn't want it, and she's going to make everyone crabby while she loudly lets us know. Add to that parents who either disagree or aren't sure how to 'fix' this and you have a long, exhausting evening.

There are so many different ideas on how to deal with this issue. Anyone remember 'Mommy Dearest'? Hubby doesn't think this is the way to go. He remembers sitting over food that must be eaten well into the evening and is not convinced this changed his eating habits. I agree - he still won't eat peas. Or how about books like this or this? Should healthy food be hidden in food? I'm not so convinced. It seems sneaky and deceptive. And frankly doesn't sound very tasty. There is even one aimed at sneaking healthy stuff in your hubby's food. Yes, your full-grown, mature husband. That may be a fight waiting to happen at our house. I also don't want to offer dessert as a reward. One of our rules has always been that if you don't like whatever is for supper,we are not a restaurant & there is always PB&J. This worked with Micah, not as much with Grace.

And then there are issues dealing with discipline. Dr. Kevin Leman, an authority on such things as birth order, sex, and parenting (I highly recommend his books & give his Sheet Music book at every bridal shower I attend!) suggests this strategy: If a child won't eat, take their plate over to the garbage, scrape off the food, and say something like, "Well, we'll see you in the morning for breakfast then," and neither offer or allow anything else. His parenting strategy is all allowing the child to earn the natural consequences of their actions. Which I agree with. But I confess that by the end of the day I have lazy parenting skills. And so I reap what I sow. I have sewn seeds of (what??? dissent? antidisestablishmentarianism? whatever?) and now have an almost 5 year old who is choosing to assert her formidable will at supper time... each and every night. At the end of the day, is this a battle I want to have? How long will it take to get the point across? How many nights of this? Will any of us get any sleep? Will hubby & I agree that this should be done? Should it be done?

I just don't know the answer to these questions. Micah was a picky eater, but not with this strong will thrown in and now he will at least try things with out a fuss and has even found he likes things he never used to. But it was never this all out war every night. I do recognize this is about more than just food. Any ideas, encouragement or tips to make supper more livable while making sure Grace actually gets some nutritional intake? Anyone? Oh! And even more pie-in-the-sky, how about some great ideas for bringing family meals back with everyone sharing the highlights of their day?
Here's a picture of Grace from when she actually liked (pseudo) veggies like tomato sauce.

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