Picky kids, followup post

A while back I wrote a sorta silly post about picky kids.


Actually, I’ve written quite a few of them in the past 3 years, some more serious.


Reader Alice Osborn posted this response, which I think warrants front-page attention. A “reprint” of sorts:

“Love all of this. My parents used to tell my sister and me: ‘That’s the beauty of living in America. You are entitled to your opinion. Isn’t it great? You don’t have to like it. You just have to eat it!’ And as mentioned above, when dinner concluded, the kitchen was closed. ‘See ya tomorrow!’ Needless to say, we learned to like a lot of things we didn’t like-part of self-preservation.”

My reply: Alice, I love your comment. Adore it really. It’s funny. It’s you rolling your eyes at the idea we all have to prance around, offering the infant emperor anything that tastes good, until his tantrum subsides.

It gets us to reflect on a simpler time when we didn’t have whole generations of kids who refuse to work, who aren’t connected to their food source, and who won’t eat anything that isn’t packaged and processed within an inch of its life.

Because we have gotten away from thousands of years of common sense–where parents served one meal and kids were thankful for it and no one thought to refuse to eat. Now we believe kids shouldn’t be “forced” to do anything, and pediatricians say they must be offered “options.” (Usually that means that junk like “mac-n-cheze” must be offered as an alternative to the healthy dish. I spelled cheze that way on purpose because it certainly isn’t cheese.)

Saying kids shouldn’t be “forced” is just a manipulative way to say that nothing should be required of them. (No one would disagree that we shouldn’t FORCE, right? All arguments are silenced by that. But there is nothing wrong with setting limits, having rules or requirements. You and I, as adults, face requirements daily in local/federal laws, rules at work, and religious and ethical codes.)

Once someone wrote me an angry letter about my intro to 12 Steps that outlines my opinions about food and kids. I think she went so far as to say that my philosophy (very close to Alice’s above) was “abuse.”

Let’s reserve the word “abuse” for people who beat their kids or call them names. Not for the people who do what parents did for thousands of years–until we collectively lost our minds in the hands of the refined-foods industry.

4 thoughts on “Picky kids, followup post

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  1. Sweet post I love it!!! I was at the store the other day and saw a couple of young kids one of them just a toddler sitting in the cart eating your typical cheese burger. Well since we haven’t been to a fast food place in years this isn’t something I have seen for quite a while. I looked at my husband and told him, “Look at that!” He was like, “yeah what about it.” I said, “I know that’s “normal” these days but it just looks so wrong to me! That little baby should not be putting that in her mouth!” Maybe “abuse” is in the eye of the beholder. 😉

  2. Great post, Robyn! This is exactly the same kind of thing I was trying to emphasise in my previous comment when you wrote about children and food, and wasting food vs encouraging children to finish what’s on their plate. I am currently in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where I work part of the year. There is plenty of food here, but not everyone can afford it. And the reality of international markets is that the most healthy stuff (fresh fruit & vegetables, beans and many grains) are saved for export, leaving the poorest to rely on oil and the less healthy starches (pounded cassava, white rice). When people in the US and Europe don’t finish their meals and end up throwing food away, and then argue they “can’t send it to poor parts of the world”, that’s only party true. No, you can’t mail your leftovers to Africa, but if the US purchased less of the international food supplies to start with (or stopped dumping their unhealthy over-subsidised surpluses in African markets), healthy African-grown foods would be cheaper and more abundant and available to the people who actually grow them.

    I loved what Alice’s parents used to say about freedom of opinion and no freedom to refuse their healthy food! When I used the same argument about freedom of choice, my father used to say “This is a family, NOT a democracy”. So I learned to love a lot of different food, and I got a lesson in power dynamics too …

  3. Great post! It’s funny the way people look at kids and food.

    We eat a predominantly strict vegetarian diet at home. My husband still likes a little meat now and then, and so it does make an appearance from time to time and when it does, our daughter is free to choose if she wants to eat some or not and usually chooses not to. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard comments from friends and family like ‘how can you deprive your daughter of meat every day’. Since we eat whole foods cooked at home, we also get lots of comments like ‘but, kids need (insert nutritionally void item of choice here – Kraft Dinner, packets of instant chicken noodle soup, Chef Boyardee, etc.). It’s a part of childhood!’

    My favorite so far was from the ministry of education representative who came to evaluate my daughter’s preschool. The school is required to provide a hot lunch (don’t even get me started about the junk they serve!) unless you can prove that your child has a special nutritional need and requires food from home (vegetarian counts as a special need). Upon seeing my daughter’s quinoa and stirfried vegges with a side of apple slices, the comment was ‘yes, this child’s food needs are definitely special’. What? Whole grains, fruits and veggies aren’t for everyone?

    Cooking and eating healthy foods at home and requiring your kids to eat the same foods you are eating is normal, sane and rational behavior. Anyone who ever suggested your program is abuse needs to give themselves a shake.

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