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This Is Not About How To Deal With Picky Eaters, Or Is It?

by Christine@TheAums on October 7, 2011 · 18 comments

There is no shortage of information out there on how to deal with picky eaters, but what I want to know is

Why do picky eaters even exist?

Are picky kids born or raised?

And here’s something else I wonder: Do kids all around the world complain about the color of their plate or that they didn’t get a certain colored cup?

I understand as kids grow into independent adults, they need to challenge and test limits, but must it be through complaining about food?

When so many go hungry in our world, hearing my children complain about a home-cooked meal deeply saddens me. And hearing them fuss about a cloth napkin pattern or fork downright annoys me.

The fact that my kids are cute great kitchen helpers and happily eat a good variety of vegetables doesn’t outweigh those moments when they arrive at the table and the first thing they have to say about a lovely meal is that I cut something the wrong way.

Having four kids only increases the chance of this happening on a frequent enough basis for me to question myself. Where have I gone wrong? How do I fix this? Can I fix this?

I do remember complaining as a kid, but not much. I hated milk, cream of wheat, scrambled eggs, and certain kinds of meat. What I don’t remember is my parents preaching to me about starving children.

That’s what the TV was for because I clearly remember my shows being put on hold by ads requesting donations for the starving children of Africa. I remember the emaciated skeletal bodies of babies, and their swollen but empty bellies. I remember feeling sad and guilty, and processing my life compared to theirs.

Well, my kids don’t have TV. Do these kind of ads still come on? One day, I was so frustrated with their complaints at the table that I turned to youtube. I found those TV ads from my youth and so much more. I made my children watch them with me. And you know what? I cried. I let them see me cry. We saw homeless and hungry families living in very harsh conditions, many in our own country. We, or I, talked about being grateful for all that we have versus complaining about not getting enough maple syrup on a pancake or asking for seconds and then not eating them.

To this day, I’m not sure if that was a good parenting moment or not, but so much of parenting is thinking on the fly, and that’s what I did in that moment.

I can preach all day (believe me), but ultimately, my kids need to see and experience first hand what I mean about feeling thankful for our many blessings and our responsibility to help those in need.

There are few times that I wish we had a TV, but the recent introduction of a poverty-stricken muppet on Sesame Street has my interest piqued. I am going to find a way for my kids to watch this primetime special which comes out on Sunday, October 9 at 6 p.m.EST on PBS. You can watch the trailer for Growing Hope Against Hunger below.

If the complaining and fussiness happens to be part of their development, then so will the values of giving thanks and helping others less fortunate.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison@Mama Wants This October 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

A wonderful thoughtful post, Christine. I think you did the right thing, showing your children what others go through, at the very least, it teaches them empathy. Watching the Sesame Street clip made me all sniffly.

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Christine@TheAums October 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Thanks, Alison. I thought the trailer was well done, and I think the show will facilitate a good discussion at the right time. I really want to get our priorities straight as the holidays approach.

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Runnermom-jen October 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I agree with Alison…this IS a wonderful, thoughtful post. I LOVE Elmo, his singing and giggle just makes me want to squeeze him!
I remember those commercials when I was growing up too…I haven’t really seen them these days, but I was a very picky eater when I was a kid. I guess I just grew out of it.
Hope you guys get to watch that Sesame Street show on Sunday night, thanks for the heads-up!

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Christine@TheAums October 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Thanks so much, Jen…and you’re welcome. I wonder whatever happened to those commercials?

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Stasha October 8, 2011 at 12:50 am

That is a great parenting moment. Pat on the back! It is the 21st century, the age of plenty and yet 21000 children die EVERY DAY from simple, preventable causes such as hunger and curable illnesses. Just because our children are the fortunate ones doesn’t mean they should not know, worry and care about the ones that are not! I will sit down and watch this special with my son, thank you for letting us know about it.

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Christine@TheAums October 8, 2011 at 5:41 am

In the moment, I was quite emotional…the frustration from their silly complaints combined with utter sadness over watching hungry, homeless, starving, dying children. This stuff isn’t in the parenting books, is it?

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MJ from iNeedaPlaydate October 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I love that you did this and btw… I was crying watching the Sesame Street promo. Kids watched me. They want to watch it now. Too bad you are not in Ohio. We could cry together. :)

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Christine@TheAums October 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

LOL…I totally missed your comment yesterday because it had the word “Ohio” in it. I have a daily spammer who leaves tons of comments with stuff like “Greetings from Ohio!” I still haven’t seen the Sesame special, but I had my dad record it for us, so hopefully soon. I’ll be sure to have a box of tissues nearby :)

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Brandi October 10, 2011 at 11:41 am

That was a great move, Christine. Sometimes, because we want to protect our kids from so much, that we forget that we need to show them the flip side of their beautiful lives in a loving, careful way, in order for them to be empathetic adults. Shoot, empathetic kids. Good work, Mom!

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Christine@TheAums October 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I was really torn in the moment, but I think it was a much-needed eye opener for all of us. And the dialogue continues to this day, especially with the approaching holidays. Thanks for your feedback, Brandi.

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Emily October 11, 2011 at 5:49 am

I can see why you felt torn, but it sounds like you were there as a supportive, loving presence while they encountered some hard truths about the world; and, for what it’s worth, I think you made a good decision. (Oh, and I feel the same exasperation with my own picky eaters!) I hadn’t heard about the Sesame Street character though. We’ll have to watch it! Thanks!

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Christine@TheAums October 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm

You’re welcome :) And you’re right, by the end, I had let go of my frustration and just held them.

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Kiddothings October 12, 2011 at 3:09 am

I’m so impressed that your kids don’t have TV. I think I was a picky eater because I remember my mom lecturing me about the starving people in Africa. We are trying to educate our kids about being thankful too and to appreciate what they have. I’m hoping to get them involved in community work like spending time with the kids in the orphanages so that they are aware that there are people less fortunate than them. Great post!

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Christine@TheAums October 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Thank you! It really is one of the best decisions we’ve made for our family. We actually modeled it after a family we admired a lot. And I’m really looking forward to doing more community work as a family, too.

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Lenette October 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this!

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Christine@TheAums October 17, 2011 at 8:58 pm

You’re welcome!

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Tara@DumpYourFrump October 29, 2011 at 11:19 am

I get so mad when my kids won’t eat a home cooked meal or come home from school with basically the same lunch I sent them with (very little eaten). I have to remind myself that sometimes they are simply not hungry. Of course when they bitch and moan about the food (and they ARE hungry) I go crazy. I’ve thought about doing what you did but haven’t done it yet. Though this is drastic, taking them to a third world country on a trip when they are teens is a major head snap for them. My parents took me on a month long trip to Borneo and Indonesia when I was 15 and at the height of my teenaged angst and drama and I came back a different person – more humbled, more grateful.

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Christine@TheAums October 29, 2011 at 11:35 am

A trip like that would definitely be eye-opening and help put things into perspective for sure. Maybe by the time they’re teenagers, we’ll be able to afford flying a family of 6…sigh. (So good to see you here by the way, thanks for stopping by :))

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