My daughter is not what you’d call a “good eater”. In fact, the year she turned two, I don’t think she ate much at all. When she hit 3, her ‘attitude’ was steeled by her innate stubbornness of character combined with the courage to lash out with epic meltdowns every meal-time.
Now, she is bordering on age 4 and things have started to change. She has become more courageous in trying what’s on her plate as opposed to down right rejecting it.
Here are some reasons as to why I think this transformation occurred:
We didn’t stop giving her veggies just because we “knew” that she didn’t like it. Giving your child the ‘easier’ but deep-fried, processed food because “at least they are eating something” might work for you in the short term, but it will set them up for bad eating habits, weight gain and behavioural issues.
I know the desperation a mother feels when their stubborn child refuses to eat the organic vegetables arranged as a spaceship on their child’s plate. I have felt the acute tiredness and utter helplessness that a mother feels in those moments. To then have your child not eat the nutritious food that you spent hours preparing is basically the last straw.
But a lesson that I have faced over and over again in the past four years of my parenting career is perseverance. If there were ever a test of your character, it is when trying to raise a child. Because over and over again you have to make the choice between what is best for them, or what is easier for you now.
We have to truly understand that we have a responsibility over our children to protect them, nurture them, and raise them in the best possible manner. What this means is that sometimes, we have to be the ‘bogeyman’. We have to be that figure of authority in our children’s lives that delivers truth to them; the truth of the cost of making bad food decisions. Because when they are teenagers, or adults, after a lifetime of making bad food choices, they will wonder why their parents did not teach them that this was wrong.
Of course we must discipline and raise our children with kindness and love. But at the same time, we must be stern when we have to be.
We must be authoritative.
The other day my husband took the girls grocery shopping.
When he got back he related this incident to me…
I happened to wander into the confectionary aisle lined with chocolate and lollies. J (my eldest daughter) didn’t say a word until we made it towards the middle of the aisle. She turned to me and said, “Baba, why are you in this aisle? Don’t you know that lollies and chocolate are bad for you?”
When he told me, I cried.
Perseverance paid off.
And believe me when I tell you dear fellow parent that you are capable of persevering through those excruciatingly difficult moments when you are faced with a choice. A choice between allowing your child who has not even been in this world for five years and therefore knows nothing about it, to do as they please, or making the right choice for them because you are the adult, you know what is best for them, because YOU are the Parent.