Learn From My Mistakes: A Story of “Food Sneaking” Gone Horribly Awry

by Bettina Elias Siegel on January 15, 2013

As followers of TLT’s Facebook page know, last week I finally bought a Vitamix after lusting after one for years.   My old blender (a wedding gift from 1998) could barely blend a banana without making alarming sounds and the motor smelling like it was about to ignite, so it’s been amazing to see what this powerful appliance can do.

Given the ability of the Vitamix to pulverize food so finely, a few days ago I had the sudden epiphany that I could sneak all kinds of healthy foods into a “fruit” smoothie with no one being the wiser.   I found myself looking across the kitchen at my veggie-averse son and fantasizing about the mountains of kale, carrots, spinach and other healthful vegetables I could start sneaking into that nutrient-deprived body on a regular basis . . . .

[Cue dreamy music, insert montage of beautifully lit vegetables, cut to happy child running through a field and smiling gratefully at veggie-sneaking parent.]

But wait!  Stop!  You already know I’m no fan of food sneaking (see “To Sneak or Not to Sneak . . . Hiding Healthful Ingredients in Kids’ Food.”)  And if I hadn’t been sure of my position already, I totally agreed with a recent and very timely post from Dina Rose of It’s Not About Nutrition on exactly this topic — using the smoothie to sneak in vegetables – and why it’s a bad idea.

And yet . . . there it was on my cutting board, one peeled carrot left over from a salad I was making, ready and waiting to toss into the orange-peach smoothie my son requested yesterday afternoon.  What harm could it cause?   Without much forethought, I threw it in the Vitamix with the rest of the ingredients and produced this beautifully colored drink:

smoothie

Then my carrot-hating son took a sip and actually said, “This is the BEST juice ever!  You can make this for me every day if you want.”

Wow!  The script was playing out just like the movie in my head, only better!  All I had to do was keep my mouth shut and start planning tomorrow’s kale and spinach – oops, I mean “green apple” — smoothie.

But, dear readers, I just couldn’t do it.  One look at that sweet, trusting face and I felt utterly wracked with guilt.  If you have an aversion to eating snails but I just know you’d love escargots if only you’d try them, do I have the right pass them off to you as mushrooms?  Even if you’re my own child, I think I do not.  And as hard as it is for me to understand it, the feeling many people have about eating snails — utter disgust — is exactly how my son feels about eating carrots.

So I took a deep breath and confessed.  It told him I’d added “a little bit” of carrot, hoping he’d remember it was the “BEST juice ever” and just move on.

Well, he did not move on.  He looked totally distressed – almost to he point of tears – and then quite angrily reminded me that I’d once told him I was not the kind of mom who would ever sneak things into his food.  And what could I say?  He was absolutely right.  I’d been a complete hypocrite.  And of course he wouldn’t take another sip of the juice.

So now I have the worst of all worlds.  I won’t sneak again – depriving myself of a convenient method of boosting his nutrient-intake — yet my son is still going to regard everything I serve him with well-deserved suspicion, at least until this incident fades from memory.

So what’s the point of sharing this story?  Learn from my mistakes.

If you think food sneaking is a great idea (and many people do) then go for it, but just make sure you have the stomach for being dishonest with your kids.  Because if your kid has expressly told you she doesn’t want to eat a certain food and you sneak it past her anyway, then you are in fact being dishonest with your child — even if your motives are pure, even she never finds out, even if it turns out to be a great strategy and your kid starts loving the hated food.

At its core, that sort of sneaking is lying.

And if you don’t have the fortitude to go down the sneaking path all the way, then please don’t be an idiot like me and go down it halfway, or you’ll only find yourself in hot water.

Or drowning in the rejected carrot smoothie of your own making.

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Dina Rose January 15, 2013 at 11:24 am

So, after you apologized for the sneak, did you remind your son that he thought it was the best juice ever?

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

Oh, yes, definitely. But to no avail. Sigh. Why didn’t I listen to you, Dina????

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Dina Rose January 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

I really encourage you to continue a conversation with your son about listening to his taste buds, which said the juice was the best, over his brain, which says he doesn’t like carrots. He is probably afraid that if he admits he likes this juice (now that he knows) you will “force” him to eat other vegetables, or carrots prepared in other ways. Promise not to do that and see if he is willing to admit that the juice was good.

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Very good idea. Will do, and will report back.

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Dina Rose January 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Also, your son probably feels some sort of mortification that he has to get past before he can admit he liked the juice. Good luck.

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EdT. January 15, 2013 at 11:25 am

One other thought: if for some reason the kid has an allergy (unbeknownst to you) to the foodstuff(s) in question (and, hey, maybe there is a reason s/he doesn’t like to be near the stuff!), then you (and the kid) may find out the hard way.

~EdT.

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 15, 2013 at 11:33 am

Maybe, but I’ve never seen any sign of that and it would have to be a pretty all-encompassing allergy! LOL.

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Jessica January 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm

i “sneak” things into our meals all the time, and immediately after my kids taste it, i tell them what’s in it. USUALLY they are ok with it, and intrigued that they actually like things that they didn’t think that they liked. Your post makes me grateful for that. Chances are, your son will outgrow his mental aversion to vegetables because obviously his palate is not in agreement :) thanks for sharing.

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Adina P January 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I suppose if one of my kids had a SERIOUS, MAJOR aversion to one ingredient and it was a huge deal to them, I would agree with you. However, I make lots of entrees, casseroles and such that my kids don’t know the recipe to. They may never like raw onions, but I’m not going to NOT put onions into a recipe because they once told me they didn’t like onions. Most of my kids opinions on foods are transient and not morally based (i.e. not eating meat for personal moral or religious reasons). Mine are 3 and under so perhaps it’s different. But I have no problem putting spinach in a smoothie. It’s the ingredient for THAT smoothie and I will still serve real spinach to them too. I don’t like ‘food sneaking’ when it’s the ONLY way a parent will serve their kids fruits and veggies. But I don’t even see it as ‘sneaking’ when you add fruits or veggies as ingredients for a smoothie, side dish or entree. It’s an ingredient with a purpose. I just don’t see it as a big deal to put extra veggies in a sauce or smoothie or whatever. I don’t get my kids permission to put garlic into a meal even if they’d never eat garlic on its own.

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 15, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Adina P: Very good point. I certainly don’t run down my ingredient list for dinner and ask, “Are onions OK?” “What about garlic?” I think this situation was different because I was making this smoothie FOR my son, AND he’d requested a particular thing (orange peach) AND I threw something in there that I knew he’d otherwise refuse. It really felt like a bait and switch, which would not be the case if I just plunked down something in front of him and said, “Here, this is what I’m serving you for this meal.” Then I agree with you that I have carte blanche. But that said, even in the latter case, when my kids ask about the ingredients, I do feel like I should be honest even if it means someone is going to balk. Does that make sense?

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Adina P January 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Makes sense =)

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bw1 February 27, 2013 at 9:42 pm

“AND he’d requested a particular thing (orange peach)”

and is there some holy canon of orange/peach smoothies that excludes carrots? There are probably hundreds of smoothie stands out there that include carrots in smoothies involving fruits of those colors. All you did was perform a blind taste test – you subjected his food prejudice to the scientific method. The real failure here is his refusal to finish the smoothie – that indicates that you’ve failed to teach him to be a rational actor, and that he finds it normal and acceptable to emote his way past empirical evidence to faulty conclusions. It’s the job of parents to make kids do things contrary to their impulses; that’s how they become civilized.

Rather than wring your hands over this, a better response would be to sit him down for a little Socratic teaching. Question him on the FACTS of the incident, removing the focus from his feelings, and demonstrate the rational conclusion to which those facts lead, while also reassuring him that, if he had, not knowing about the carrots, complained that it didn’t taste right, you would have come clean and made him another one, sans carrots. He should be able to trust that, when you offer him a pleasant smoothie drinking experience, that’s what you’ll deliver, and the ingredients, assuming they’re not objectively harmful, are irrelevant. He can’t muster any objection to carrots other than esthetic, so, as a rational human being, he shouldn’t care about their inclusion unless it impacts the sensory experience. If he’s sophisticated enough to call you on breaking your own “rules,” then he’s old enough to be required to defend his positions with evidence – anything less is akin to shouting and stomping to get one’s way.

If you still feel bad about the supposed deception, make a deal with him – any future additions of healthy things he doesn’t like will be preceded by an announced blind A-B taste test of the dish with and without the contested ingredient. If he can’t tell which is which, then he has to accept the dish with the nutritional enhancement going forward. It’s honest and aboveboard, and forces both of you to meet a burden of proof in deciding the outcome of a disagreement.

This is about more than teaching good eating habits – it’s about teaching logic and how to think. There’s also a good opportunity for consumer education here – teaching the difference between feature and benefit.

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Bettina Elias Siegel February 28, 2013 at 6:44 am

BW1 — I always appreciate your perspective on this blog and your frequent challenges to my views help keep me on my toes. So when I ask this question, please don’t take it the wrong way. But I must know: do you actually have kids?

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bw1 March 2, 2013 at 10:13 am

One, and he’s not at that point yet, but I do and will continue to use my own parents as a guidelune. We ate what was put in front of us, period, and harbored no illusions that our family was a democracy. Early on, the expectation was set that we would be eating things we did not like. My parents set a great example – I was 27 the first time my father revealed to me that there was a food he did not like, and I never could have predicted it from anything he had said or done up to that point. There were many things I disdained and was compelled to eat as a child that I didn’t start to like until my college years – research has shown people need more than 10 exposures to a new food to habituate to it, and even more to start to like it.

We could object, but our objections would not even be heard unless they were rational and fact based, and unless we made our case in a logically sound fashion. Once I had admitted to liking that smoothie, I would have been required to own up to it, and no amount of backpedaling would erase it. We were raised to be low maintenance, I have abolutely no “sweet tooth,” there is nothing legally called food I will not happily eat, and I’ve encountered only one food that I don’t want to have again.

Your son called you on your prior statements – he scored a “gotcha,” but he also set himself up for you to score one too. If he’s ready to wield that sword, he’s ready to learn that it has two edges and cuts both ways. One of life’s great lessons is being hoist on one’s own petard, and it’s a lot easier to learn it from Mom over a tirvial matter, and gain better nutrition in the process, than it is to learn it from an academic, professional, or commercial rival later when the stakes are life-changing.

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 2, 2013 at 10:46 am

BW1: Thanks for answering my question about whether you have a child, which I realize was rather personal and maybe even over-the-line for me to ask.

I think you and I already realize that we have quite different parenting philosophies (even apart from food issues), and that’s fine, of course. But one line of your comment raises a question for me:

Once I had admitted to liking that smoothie, I would have been required to own up to it, and no amount of backpedaling would erase it.

If I were to follow your advice (and I ask this only rhetorically), what would you have had me do to “require” my son to own up to his admission? Would you require my son to finish the smoothie over his own objections? What if he refused to do so? Would you deny his next meal until he drank it? Or would you just force him to admit verbally he liked the smoothie with the carrot before he knew there was carrot (something we both already knew) and then dump the smoothie in the sink? I’m just wondering what form his “ownership” of his admission should take, in your view.

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bw1 March 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm

First of all, I’d have to admit that I couldn’t tell the difference. Second I’d be told to finish the smoothie. We wouldn’t have thought of refusing, any more than I’d think of hitting the accelerator when a police officer signals me to pull over. Third, if I wanted another of those smoothies ever again, it would be made with carrots. We understood we were accountable for things like that.

As an adult, those lessons serve me well. Employers expect such accountability. It’s something with which you should be familiar if you practice the profession for which you’re trained.

So, what exactly is the philosophical difference? It’s odd to see someone who completes law school and doesn’t value organized, logical thinking.

Your son was clearly discounting empirical facts in favor of his irrational prejudices – is that something you want to encourage? That’s the underpinning of things like racism.

He held you to a standard that you’ve established in your family – are you saying that it would be wrong to hold him to one as well?

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Ok, I hate to sound flip, BW1, but “discounting empirical facts in favor of . . . irrational prejudices” is pretty much a summation of being a kid, isn’t it? Fear of the dark, magical thinking, a belief in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, hitting your sister even when you know it will bring down on your head a punishment you’re going to hate . . . kids just are not paragons of rational, logical thought. That’s what maturity brings, but it’s a slow developmental process. At age ten, it’s “Ew, carrots.” Eventually it will be “Ew, carrots. But wait, that drink was really good. Maybe I need to re-assess carrots.” I think where you and I differ is how to get from A to B. I’m willing to let that process unfold naturally and I have no doubt that it will. You seem to feel that it must be forced into existence.

My kids will tell you I’m a strict disciplinarian in many ways, but personally I find it abhorrent to *force* a child to eat or drink something they find repulsive, no matter how irrational I find that repulsion. It’s my belief that food can and should be a great source of pleasure in life, as well as nourishment, and the idea of compelling my kids to choke down foods they can’t stand, for years on end, just deeply saddens me.

Yes, it’s great that you ultimately came to like the foods you hated as a kid but were forced to eat anyway. Yet I can point to many, many people who avoided certain foods as children and somehow they, too, came to like those foods as young adults. So I’m willing to take the gamble that my son will come around to those foods on his own, in his own sweet time, and with encouragement from me but NOT under threat of punishment. And if I’m wrong about all this, well, then I’m wrong. My son will never be a carrot-eating adult. I’d far prefer that result than the alternative you propose.

But again, as noted, I think we do differ generally in our approaches to childrearing, and one’s parenting style is a deeply personal matter. I wish you all the best with your own child and perhaps we can compare notes in a decade or two.

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bw1 March 2, 2013 at 11:55 pm

“I think where you and I differ is how to get from A to B. I’m willing to let that process unfold naturally and I have no doubt that it will.”

If that were true, racism and many other pernicious ways of thinking would have faded into extinction long, long ago. If anyone thinks that it must be forced, it’s “progressives” like you that have been trying to use the hammer of government to beat it into the population for the last few generations. I prefer to think that it must be taught, and that your son’s refusal to accept the clear implications of what he had said only moments earlier constituted a teachable moment for two key concepts of rational thought and dealing with life. The first is the aforementioned principle that empirical evidence trumps preconceived prejudices.

The second, I’ve alluded to as owning your admissions – the idea that once you’ve conceded a point, you can’t arbitrarily go back on that without losing credibility. The most familiar application is in negotiating a price for something – if you open too high, you can’t subsequently try to go lower than that.

To a degree, these are part of the gamesmanship that plays a role in all human interactions. Far too often, people are repelled by the prospect of applying such gamesmanship on their children in even the most innocuous situations, but how else do they learn?

In terms of rational thought in kids, given your academic credentials, it’s probable that your kid is well above average intelligence. He caught you in a logical inconsistency easily enough, so don’t sell him short. It’s axiomatic that those who are ready to dish it out are ready to take it in.

When you say you’re a strict disciplinarian, I’m sure you realize I take that with a huge grain of salt. I suppose that refers to your response to excursions beyond the envelope of your restrictive rules, but your abhorrence at compelling a child to eat something they don’t like (kids find very little truly repulsive, especially boys – they are generally amused by “gross out” humor) has me wondering what prescriptive rules you believe in – what WOULD you compel a child to do contrary to his desire? For instance, if your child broke out in a cold sweat at the thought of injections, I presume you’d still make him get vaccinated. What if he was ill and the only treatment involved repeated thrice daily oral imbibing of a truly foul tasting elixir? If your child has the expectation that you’ll never compel him to face an unpleasant experience, how would you approach the subject if, God forbid, he needed chemotherapy, because, let’s face it, drinking a smoothie containing undetectable carrots would be a walk in the park compared to that. What if this whole economic mess we’re in somehow implodes in a way that casts your family into abject poverty – what would you then be willing to do? I have an uncle who was captured in the Battle of the Bulge – he watched guys who had been raised more affluently than him starve because they couldn’t get their heads around eating rats fast enough. Can you be sure your son will never be drafted and face such a situation?

I had to do a lot of things I didn’t like as a kid. Eating foods that were less than delicious was hardly the worst of them.

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Catherine August 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm

BW1 – I think I love you. :)

Personal responsibility is a lesson that cannot be taught early enough. I think that I am quite gentle with my son, but I learned from watching my stepdaughters being coddled that there is no age that is too early to learn that the world is not always fair and that “there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” I speak with my son about how much I love him, but that he must learn how to graciously do unwanted tasks and not become undone by their necessity.

I struggle with getting enough veg in my son and sneak it every chance I get. However, I have learned from this post and its comments that I should definitely be presenting the actual vegetable along side the snuck-into food, so that he’s getting the idea that it will be in the house and at some point, he’s expected to eat it. The puree can be a safety net until he’s ready to try.

Milehimama January 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I’m not a fan of the food sneaking either, but I have had success with making these kind of juices *for myself*, and letting the kids taste it, and then when they ask for it for themselves just matter factly going about making “mommy’s juice” without comment or warning (i.e., if they said they liked it, I don’t start with “But it has CARROTS in it, are you sure you want it with carrots?”

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 15, 2013 at 8:45 pm

That’s a good idea, Milehimama. Sometimes I do pique their interest with foods I’m making just for myself, so I should apply that to the smoothies, too.

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Marishannon @ My Spirited Adventure January 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I “sneak” veggies into my kids food (mostly smoothies) but I say “sneak” because my oldest knows whats in it (my other kid is 19 months so doesn’t even think about it). My 3 year old helps me put spinach and carrots in his smoothies and gets excited about it :)

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm

It sounds like you’re creating healthy little eaters right from the start. Good for you! :-)

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Jessica January 15, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Well, I just went through something like too. My son is younger but has been in an all-out fruit/veggie boycott for weeks. I finally got him to eat applesauce from those squeezy things. So I thought I’d be clever and sneak in apples mixed with veggies (spinach, etc.). You would have thought that I’d stabbed him. He squeezed it all out, screaming hysterically in anger. He has yet to touch another squeeze tube. The trust is gone.

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 15, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Exactly. It doesn’t always backfire, but when it does . . . Thanks for sharing here.

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Christy Obi January 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I too have a Vitamix and my kids LOVE their smoothies. I too dont really agree with sneaking veggies into their food, afterall, iI’m not going to be there every step of their teenage and adulthood to sneak veggies into their food and drink. It will be their own responsibility to care for their own bodies. Instead I leave noyhing a secret and encourage their participation. When I make their smoothie I let them throw in the handful of spinach, or when I give it to them I make it clear the green color comes from delicious green vegtables. Then when they drink it aand love it (which they always do) them they by themselves alone have made the choice to drink what we have mixed up. Theres something to be said when you set your children up for success when it comes to eating healthy!

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 15, 2013 at 8:43 pm

That seems like the perfect approach.

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Lisa January 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

We adopt the “I’ll tell you honestly what’s in it once you taste it and tell me honestly what you think about it,” approach. It *usually* works, and I’m always forthcoming with the ingredient list once they have rendered a “this is delicious” or “this is gross” verdict.

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 15, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Oh, I really like that! But my kids are often reluctant to taste until they know what’s in something. Maybe if I’d started that rule when they were very tiny . . .

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Sarah January 16, 2013 at 5:18 am

I’ve never “liked” fish. As an adult, i can tell you that, I like the looks, i like the smell, i like the idea and i even like the taste of cooked fish but eating it makes me feel queasy & ill. As a child, with a child’s vocabulary, all I could communicate was “I don’t like it”.
When I was 7, my mom made a delicious ‘chicken’ chowder & it was fabulous. So yummy, I ate 3 (child sized) servings. I remember thanking her for making it with chicken instead of clams so I could eat it. 2 hours later, I was vomiting uncontrollably & couldn’t stop, even after my stomach was finally empty. In the wee hours of the morning, as she cleaned me up yet again, my mom apologized for feeding me clams & lying about it.
Now, I’m not saying that everything a child declares they don’t like is an allergy or sensitivity, I’m just chiming in and agreeing with your stance on honesty. In my home (I run a child care home so, many children of different ages & backgrounds), the rule is “It’s your body, you get to decide what to put in it”. That doesn’t mean I serve chicken nuggets & chocolate pudding every day! I have a varied menu of whole foods & everyone has the same thing served to them. If we’re serving chicken, green beans, sweet potatoes & rice for lunch, then that’s what you have on your plate. There are no bribes or begs or bowls of cold cereal or PB&Js for kiddos who don’t want to eat because we’ll be having a snack in 2-3 hrs & they’ll probably eat that. We’re aiming for a well balanced diet, not a well balanced meal. I trust them to eat if they’re hungry and, eventually, after seeing something on their plate often enough & seeing others enjoy it & without “c’mon sweetie, just 3 bites? Ok, 2 bites… Ok, just eat one, please eat one nibble!”, they’ll probably try it. Or they won’t and that’s ok too. Serve a varied enough variety & maybe you’ll find your child adores yams & who cares if he hates carrots? ;)

It’s an uncomfortable amount of power for a child to have when they see you begging or bribing or angry or fearful because they won’t eat “just two bites” of chicken. It’s amazing to see some of the children gearing up for a battle of wills at lunchtime when they see something on the plate the don’t want. “I DON’T LIKE BANANAS!”
“Ok, it’s your body, you can decide what you put in it. This is what we’re having for lunch today”
“I *DONT* like BANANAS!”
“I heard you say that. You can choose not to eat your banana.”
“BUT I… what…?”
I do insist that they don’t describe food as yucky or gross or EEEWWWWWWW because I work hard to prepare their lunches & it does hurt my feelings to be told it’s gross. I will direct conversations to more neutral descriptors if I feel it getting stuck there. :)

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Laura J January 17, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I love this approach!

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Chris January 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm

THIS!!!! this is what we did with our two. And now- they happily eat greens sauteed with chicken broth- will ask for seconds!!(while my mom served me very healthy food- she was an uninspired cook and I disliked vegetables until my mid 20s), water is their favorite beverage and my oldest squeals with delight when I get her a tub of organic baby bell peppers because that is her favorite thing ever!! LOL She is 11. We still have arguments over food,(I am against all items with artificially coloring which includes gum) and we aren’t perfect, but I think we have at least the 80/20 thing going. They ate a lot of fast food when younger, my hubby and I were overwhelmed by our schedules – we work opposite shifts so as to not have daycare- but now when with their grandparents- who eat a lot of fast food- they will actually refuse to eat while at McD’s or Taco Bell. They say it tastes nasty!!(so proud lolol)- my hubby is an excellent cook- professional for over 30 years- and he has learned how to make yummy healthy instead of with butter, cheese etc. ; and I’m not so bad myself ;D since I discovered my food intolerances and had to learn how to make my food be tasty without dairy, gluten, corn or soy. Cooking is a lost art, and can be a sort of meditation at times. Tending to myself has led me to lose over 100 pounds.
Schools need to go back to having cooking classes. Our K-8 school has an awesome classroom kitchen- but it isn’t used due to lack of funding for a home ec teacher!!?!
Sorry, blabbing on.. there are several changes that are so obvious to me that could put us well on our way to fixing our educational system- and fairly easy too- garden at school, cook at school, learn about nutrition and movement at school. Solve a good portion of the attention and behavioral issues with better food. Better learning environment, better retention of knowledge, better test scores! and more students excelling at university making us more competitive in the world that is here already. We are behind. Food can catch us up.

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Heather January 16, 2013 at 6:46 am

I’m usually with you, but not on this one…we don’t give our children an ingredient list for everything we feed them, why do it for this? Does the tooth fairy visit your house? or the Easter Bunny or Santa…isn’t it just the same thing (not being completely honest with our children). Why have we become so hesitant to give our kids fruits or veg because they won’t like it, but don’t think twice about giving processed foods (do we read them the ingredient list for that? Because it would be much grosser than a carrot). I don’t sneak much because my kids are not very picky about fruits and veg, but sometimes I do and I’m don’t feel bad for one second because as their mom I am doing the best job I can to look out for their health and well being. p.s the tortilla soup in the vitamix book is yummy and full of veg and my kids love it (I top with tortilla strips).

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mommm!!! January 16, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Since you put it out there for commenting, I’m going to go against my grain for a second and tell you what I think. I rarely make comments about others’ parenting styles because that’s a personal decision and I really feel like it’s none of my business. Keep in mind this is just based on your story since we’ve never met and so therefore I don’t know you or your child at all. This comes from a place of love and I hope it doesn’t sound judgmental.

However. It sounds like a power struggle more than anything else and I wouldn’t stand for it for a second. I simply refuse to engage my child in these types of scenarios. My child doesn’t get to tell me how things are going to go or what he is or is not going to eat because I am the parent.

That being said there ARE things he doesn’t particularly like to eat. However, I choose my battles and try to keep the white noise to a minimum. So he doesn’t like broccoli, so what. Ok, so I don’t make him eat it 20 times in a month, but darnit we will have it with dinner occasionally and that is simply that. I find that the undesirables go down much easier when accompanied with favorites.

And I think there’s a difference between slipping a carrot into juice and trying to pass off monkey brains as burgers. There just is. At the very least the child needs basic nutrition. The child does not NEED to eat snails or monkey brains. Although, I rather enjoy snails and a half of loaf of crusty bread myself. The point is….don’t beat yourself up about being a parent. I would not have felt guilty for a second about the carrot juice.

Lastly, when my child challenges me with “I’m not going to eat such and such blahblahblah” my response is that if he doesn’t eat it, that’s ALL he will eat for the next week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve only had to come through on that threat once and it only lasted a day and he’s never challenged me about food since. Whines, yes, occasionally….but refuse to eat something? No. My child also understands that food is a basic need, good food is a gift,
and good food prepared for you daily for free is a luxury that lots of children never get to experience. Turning his nose up at it is not looked highly upon in my household because I work hard to buy that food. And that right there has made him a joy to take to other peoples’ houses for dinners. I constantly get compliments about him.

Now if I could just get him to actually put trash IN the trashcan and stop leaving clothes all over the floor…and the stairs…and the living room….I’d be SET. :)

One more thing I just remembered…..yanno how some people will put just a tiny bit of something the child doesn’t like on the plate and then spends the entire meal negotiating with said child over the single bite of *insert any grody veggie here*? I don’t do that. I put a normal helping on the plate. My approach is this: If I know I’m going to be negotiating with a child over a meal I would actually like to enjoy rather be annoyed because of said negotiating, then I want something out of it. When you start out bigger, then you can negotiate down to no less than half a serving. then the child feels like HE has won, I feel like I have won, and everyone is happy. Voila!

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bw1 April 17, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Wow! BRAVO!!!! AMEN!

I have one reservation about the last paragraph. Children must be prepared to live in a society where compliance with the law is not negotiable – why should compliance with household law be negotiable?

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The young mom July 15, 2013 at 7:05 pm

YES.

And I also do not lie to my children about the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, etc… All our parenting styles are very different and I will not bash one parent’s lifestyle unless I get stuck babysitting someone that really disrupts everything because s/he wants it their way constantly. I don’t know if its called sneaking or not but I do not tell my children everything that is in their food unless they ask. And if they ask and throw a fit I more or less just let them get over it and eat it anyway because they asked for it and already like it. My son has a problem with tomatoes. He will eat them if he doesn’t realize it but says he doesn’t like them if its in plain view like a salad. My husband specifically asks me though, to not tell him what he’s about to eat because he knows he will like it anyway. He wasn’t forced to eat anything he didn’t like and as an adult he consumes more sugar and soda and white breads than anybody I know. He does not try anything that looks “gross” and certainly not if he knows what’s in it. People aren’t going to like everything. I never liked potatoes as a child and even now I only really enjoy sweet potatoes but I remember hating carrots too and I love carrots now.

I think the one thing I differ with parents around me on is whether to clear the plate. I was taught to clear my plate but my family never served me the exact amount each time. And I will not spend my days measuring out each exact proportion. They get the same serving as everyone else and I do not make them finish. I will be stuffed to the bone and trying my hardest to clear my plate because I am so used to it. Thankfully I am healthy and fit and not overweight. My kids have to eat their most undesirable food first and/or must eat some from all the servings before they can be finished. I won’t force them to eat it all if they are full. And since I can’t feel their bellies inside, that’s the simple rule for us. I know that they can get full quickly and be hungry again soon after, so the same practice still applies.

I instill the same values in our home :) food and its preparation is a beautiful gift and should be appreciated.

It may not be every parent’s choice but I certainly have children that steal my raw veggies before I can cook them for myself. They like things I don’t like one bit.

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Zeke January 18, 2013 at 11:30 am

you say don’t go do the path of lying to your kids but I wonder does Santa clause come every December? and the Easter bunny?

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Bettina Elias Siegel January 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Well, actually we’re Jewish, so . . . :-)

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Maryann January 23, 2013 at 8:44 am

I’m not a fan of sneaking either. What I did with both of my kids was tell them I was adding spinach to their smoothies and they watched. My daugther was a bit skeptical but when she tasted it, she was okay. My son didn’t like the green color at first but now accepts it. You son is older so it might be different but this worked for me — upfront from the beginning.

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Melody April 4, 2013 at 4:46 pm

So you’re saying you’re always 100% honest with your kids? You don’t have Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy?

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Melody April 4, 2013 at 4:47 pm

oops nevermind, disregard. I missed that comment already posted.

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bw1 April 17, 2013 at 9:10 pm

You could have merely looked at her name and applied a little cultural awareness, but you actually have more of a point than Zeke, since the tooth fairy is an equal opportunity myth.

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