As a parent of three children I can clearly remember several battles concerning their eating habits. Getting them to eat their savoury food before being allowed to progress onto their dessert for example. It may also have extended to allowing them to leave the table before completing their meal on the clear understanding that they would come back and finish it later – specifically before any further food was provided. The main lessons were to do with waste reduction (there are children all over the world that were dying of starvation and would benefit from the food provided to them) and the requirement for each of us to have a healthy, balanced diet.
Over 25 years later we are regularly reminded that we made our daughter eat cold brussel sprouts for breakfast the day after one of our dining room battles. I deny that our food parenting style was so extreme – but she says her memory is indelible due to the extreme trauma. As Christmas dinner is my annual foray into the kitchen then it is sure to reopen the old wound because it can’t be Christmas without sprouts.
There are a few ways that this family story can affect people today:
- it is quite possible that even with the best intentions our parenting decisions can be misunderstood (and maybe even mis-remembered) by our children in later life.
- eating disorders can be serious, very serious so my flippant story cold be a vehicle to begin a serious, very serious conversation with your child concerning their eating habits
- food can be used as a controlling device – either by the parent or more often by the teen themselves as they feel out of control in every other area of life. If you suspect something isn’t right then make sure you contact someone today – your medical advisor or www.eatingdisorders.org.au .
- as for brussel sprouts – I maintain that they are good for you and the self discipline in eating something that tastes different is worth developing.
Enjoy your Christmas be it in the sun or the snow and we will be back in the New Year with more things to think about.