The headline on MSNBC yesterday read, "Strict Parents Tend To Have Overweight Kids." The article explains the results of a study conducted at Boston University:
Strict mothers were nearly five times more likely to raise tubby first-graders than mothers who treated their children with flexibility and respect while also setting clear rules.
But while the children of flexible rule-setting moms avoided obesity, the children of neglectful mothers and permissive mothers were twice as likely to get fat.
Meaning that, once again, we moms are on the hook to strike the perfect balance of laid-backness vs. up-tightness. Exhausting, isn’t it?
Although this article is speaking about parenting styles in general (not just related to food), it does raise an issue I think of often–am I overseeing my kids eating habits well? I have never been overly strict about sugar (largely–no pun intended–because I like it so much myself.) We have junk food in our house; to eliminate it altogether would, I’ve always felt, turn it into a "forbidden fruit". So there are Little Debbies in the cupboard and Fudge Stripes in the cookie jar, and the kids know they don’t have free reign in the kitchen. I allow them to have "sugar snacks" (as we call them) once an afternoon, and sometimes after dinner, if they eat an especially good meal. Other snacks have to be "healthy" (peanut butter, cheese, yogurt, bananas, etc.)
Our mealtime rules require that the kids take one bite of everything on their plates. If, after one bite, the child doesn’t like it, he doesn’t have to eat anymore of that particular food item. If I can tell it’s a legitimate issue of taste, I let it drop; if it’s more of a issue of stubborness, I’ll refrigerate the leftovers and, when they say they’re hungry (which they inevitably will), I offer them the leftovers. I am NOT a short order cook–I just don’t have the time for it. If they get hungry enough, they’ll eat has always been my kitchen mantra.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’ve not had to deal with overly picky eaters. I’m guessing this is not a result of my "good parenting", but more likely because God knew I would pull my hair out! I have friends who have faced real challenges in this area, and my heart goes out to them.
In light of this topic, I’d be interested to hear your parenting philosophies on the subject of feeding your kids. Have you discovered any tips that make dinner time more peaceful? You experienced parents of picky eaters, have discovered any miracle "cures"?
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