30.5.07

A nefarious chicken-finger pandemic?

That's what David Kamp of the New York Times calls it.

I don't remember being allowed to eat from a children's menu -- don't think they were around back then. My sister used to eat out and insist on some variation of the "hamburger, french fries, milkshake" theme (steak and potatoes would do). And when we ate at family or friends house, the rule was always to eat what was being served, even if it meant having a "no thank you" helping (a few mouthfuls to show appreciation for the cooking, and possibly to introduce a new dish to our palates).

In so many ways children have started to rule their parents, rather than the other way around. It's easier - I hear from my childed friends - to make them a dinner they'll eat rather than a dinner they'll fight not eating. I say tough. Let them go without dinner a time or two and they'll start eating. Force them eat what the adults are eating. Reward their adventurousness with a cookie if you must, but insist that they try a little of everything on the plate. Then, when you get to a friend's, or to a restaurant, they'll be able to eat without whining about the lack of chicken fingers.

6 comments:

camillofan said...

My mother did that (serve us one mean, and that was that). But my mother was also a full-time homemaker who put 100% of her energy into that job and no other. I have caved with my second son and plan his means around his tastes because, even though it sounds harder, it's actually easier for me.

Yes, for me. The policy isn't really about him at all (I don't say this with pride; just being honest). He eats at friends' houses, though, and there he takes what's served. Friends' moms are always telling me what a good eater Paul is.

camillofan said...

Gosh-- I wrote "means" for "meals" twice in that last post!

wasagooze said...

I have a 6 year old who is a picky eater. Yes, I could fight that fight, but I work full-time, and my husband gets home late, so we eat way after my son does. In our case, there is a serious gag reflex and aversion to unfamiliar textures, and a dairy allergy to contend with. Because of the dairy allergy I have to bring food with me when we go out anyways, so the picky eating doesn't really cause any additional hassles. He eats a limited menu, but something from each food group (well, except dairy). It won't last forever, but he is healthy, growing, and easygoing in any other circumstance. This is a hard one to judge, until you have walked the walk.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Go to any other country and you don't find this catering to the whims of children. They eat what adults do. How very mean and cruel of them: clearly no sense of the importance of allowing a child to get their way all the time. Allergies are one thing, pickiness is another.

camillofan said...

Go to any other country and you don't find this catering to the whims of children.

I don't want to start something ugly here in LG's journal, but I do wonder how one could possibly be sure of the above.

Parents everywhere (well, in every place where there are choices) choose their battles (and, yes, then rationalize their choices, like I'm doing... but hear me out). I daresay there are some people who won't budge an inch regarding food, but who might risk "spoiling" their children with lenience in some other area in which Hubby and I feel that more strictness is warranted (e.g., personal electronic devices, rewards for good grades, curfews, dating, rude language). If compromising my ideals with regard to food were part of a pattern of rampant indulgence, I might be indeed be guilty of "allowing a child to get [his] way all the time." In the context of our general lifestyle, though, I deny the charge.

People of good will disagree on all sorts of parenting issues. Should one make minor children attend religious observances? try a sport? learn an instrument? Will candy and soda be permitted in the house? Should extracurricular activities be limited? Will reading material or the Web be censored and, if so, until what age? Should an older teen be allowed (or required) to get a job (versus being allowed/required to devoted all her energy to school)? Will Mom & Dad help with car insurance or college tuition (versus having Junior earn-- and "really appreciate"-- these things for himself)?

Once, when my grandfather was a child, his immigrant mother punished him for essentially offering a heavy sigh ("Is that what we're having?") upon learning that the night's supper wasn't going to be his favorite. I know this because the punishment-- having to sit on the porch, wearing one of his sister's dresses, while the rest of the family ate-- is legendary in our family.

I like my way better.

stj said...

coming from a family of 7 kids (yes good catholics) we ate what was served...mainly because if we didn't the other 6 would gobble it up. the moral is instead of having a nuclear family have more kids or dress the dogs up to look like humans...watch the food get eaten then