Family Dinners

mom2_1sm2_1April 13, 2009

At what age do you think a child should have no choice on what is for dinner? Or decide that he/she don't like what is on plate and have something different?

My BF daughter is 4 now and comes to our house EOWE. I am in close contact w/ BM and talk to her regularly. I asked her what kind of food SD like to eat for meals. I took a list and planed accordingly because it is hard to get her to eat much other than fish stick and chicken nuggets.

One evening before dinner was ready to come out of the oven I asked SD if she liked potpies - I did this onpurpose because she will never eat anything I make. She said she did with a big smile and I told her that was what was for dinner, but we were going to have a homemade one that we would all share, she was delighted. As soon as I got it out of the oven she made a face of dissaproval and refused to eat it. She had not even tried it and already said she didn't like it. In the end she got something different to eat.

This just didn't happen on one occusion, it happenes at least once every weekend. I don't cook out of the box, I make most meals homemade, afterall I am a homemaker. Just last weekend when she asked what was for dinner she already decided she didn't like it with out even seeing it first and once again refused to eat it. She ended up getting chicken nuggets.

I understand that the unknown is feared and if something looks weird than it may be hard to eat. I don't make over the top foods, just homemade general foods like casseroles and roasts and chicken ect... But DS2 can't chew and I puree all of his foods, he eats almost everything I give him. Last weekend I was sooo tempted to puree SD's food and feed it to her the way I feed DS. But I just kept my mouth shut.

When I was a child my mother could not afford for everyone to have something different for dinner and what was for dinner was for dinner. If you didn't like it you didnt eat. NO PPJ, no cereal, just dinner. Today I will eat just about anything and love to try new foods. My BF on the other hand who was raised the same as he is raising SD is a very picky eater and it is hard to get him to try new things. I intend to use the same tactic "whats for dinners for dinner" with my son.

A part of me feels I am being too hard, a part of me feels like giving in and having pizza and chicken nuggets and fish sticks all weekend so I don't have to deal with it. A part of me is afraid the this will not stop unless we stop it. If she has the ability to decide at every meal that she wants something different, why eat what is for dinner, even if I know she likes it? I am also worried about the long run. I don't want my son to pick up on this and do the same thing. Am I wrong? Please, let me see your point of view.

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Nope. You're not wrong. If she's hungry, she'll eat. Sorry, but a hungry kid will eat what you feed them. There is nothing more disgusting to me (well, there is, but you know what I mean!) than a kid who turns up their nose at perfectly good food.

No alternative meals. My mom used to say "I'm not a short-order cook". I eat everything and try anything as a result. My dd is pickier than I was and it makes me crazy sometimes. I made a turkey pot pie (also homemade, large, not in a cute little package!) the other night, and boy was it good!!! My DH actually asked me to make another one the next night! Perfectly acceptable kid food. Mine had peas, carrots, onions for the veg. My dd age 7 ate it up.

I'd not make a fuss, just smile and say, that's what's for dinner! A child will not starve themselves. This is a power trip. And, IMO, fish sticks and chicken nuggets are not appropriate for dinner. They are "special occasion" food. When going out, when pressed for time, etc. Not everyday food. Neither is mac and cheese unless accompanied with veg. Dinner is protein, starch, veg. and dairy. Not from a package because of additives and sodium.

Of course, we can't all make a big 50's style dinner every night. But casseroles, taco nights, meatloaf, soups, etc. are easy to make of leftovers, inexpensive and wholesome. The turkey I made last weekend made sandwiches, meals of turkey breast slices, the turkey pot pie, a turkey barley soup... etc. Two weeks worth of meals for three people. Low-fat, high protein and although dd was tired of turkey slices she gobbled up the casseroles!!

You are right. This will not stop unless you stop it. If you are willing to deal with this for the next 14-16 years, by all means, let her get away with it. But I'd nip this little power trip right in the bud. Call her bluff. Maybe get some nice desserts as well. "After we eat our dinner of pot pie, I hope you'll join me for some pudding and whipped cream"...After dinner, bust out your yummy pudding and eat it. She'll come around when she sees her little trip doesn't work and everyone is enjoying themselves without her.

Can you tell I have zero tolerance for picky eaters? ;) (as we speak right now my dd is not wanting to eat her breakfast... eggs and toast... "what's for lunch mom?" uh-huh... I tell her nothing, if she doesn't eat her eggs. She's a little over-sugared from yesterday and only wants junk. Fine. If she doesn't want to eat her meal, she doesn't have to. But no alternative. And that includes holding out for a meal (lasagna for lunch) that she likes better.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 12:06PM
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Kids get a choice when they are old enough to cook and clean up after themselves. Until then, they eat what is served. My kids are 18 & 19, hardly babies and they still eat what I fix or make something on their own... of course they have to clean up their mess. Also, my son recently complained that I didn't buy much of what he likes... I told him to buy his own groceries if he doesn't like what I buy. He's 19 and can work and buy what he likes.

If you don't want her eating chicken nuggets instead of the regular meal, stop buying them. "sorry honey, we are out of chicken nuggets, we are having pot pie." Unless she gets physically ill from eating certain foods (my ex's son used to literally gag if he tried to eat potato salad), she can eat what is served. If there are side dishes, she can eat those. If she misses a meal, it won't kill her. She will eat if she's hungry... and she will continue to nit pick and be a picky eater as long as she continues to get served something special.

There was one time my SD wouldn't eat a meal I made because it had tuna in it. She used to LOVE tuna but one weekend at her mom's house, she ate a bunch of chocolate/coffee ice cream for breakfast and a tuna sandwich for lunch. She spent the night vomiting. I guess she no longer likes tuna so I made her a turkey sandwich when we could tell she wasn't going to eat the tuna. But, we won't make her something special just because she decides she doesn't like what we are having... as long as I know it's something she likes or eats anyways. One time, she tried to tell me she didn't like soup because we gave her soup when she was sick. She said she didn't like ANY soup... so about a week later, we were at a Chinese restaurant and she got upset that we didn't order her soup. She was reminded that she didn't like ANY soup. So, when she changed her mind... we told her that when she tells us she doesn't like such and such, we are not going to give her such and such.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 12:10PM
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I just want to clairify that I am not the one to give SD the different food, that is BF. I have had the talk with him on what is for dinner is for dinner, but he said two things to that: 1. I can't tube feed her the way you can DS, and she has to eat something. I replied telling him that that was the way it was for me when I was a child and I am fine today. 2. That he only has her here 3 out of 14 days and he does not want her to have a bad experience.
She is also able to get away with much more than DS too. BF is intolerant when DS cries when it is time to eat (note: I put him to bed when he does this and he diagnostically has feeding intolerances - hence the feeding tube.) but SD cries (fake) at the table everytime wanting something different for dinner. She sits there for many minutes until he gives in and fixes her some nuggets.
There are also times when he tells her that she has to eat more, because she claims to be full and has only taken a few bites, or she is not getting any chocolate milk or snacks including popcicles. Of course she refuses, and guess what, an hour later she is sucking on a popcicle or munching on some chips.
I talked to him last night about the dinner is dinner thing and he said that he was the same way when he was a child and he understands. 1.His mom is a bad cook - I'm not. 2.Does he really want her to be as picky of a eater as him? We compromised for now; (I will pursue this further) when she says she don't want what is for dinner, she gets something other than what on her plate like cereal - not Cherios - she likes them too much, or a PPJ, but it will not be her choice. I am not too happy with this, but hopefully things work in my favor and she still refuses to eat what the alternative is too. I just wish I had a way for him to see my point of view. He has a hard time believing that when I was a child what was for dinner was for dinner. Any advice there?
Sorry this is sooo long, I just don't know what else to do.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 3:22PM
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At least you made a little headway, unsatisfying as it may be. When I was growing up, it was ONE meal for the family, zero other options. We wouldn't even have thought to say we didn't like it! Well, except for peas, and then dad made you stay at the table all alone until you ate them. Mom would let you go after about 15 minutes, but that was an eternity for a kid. I think at some point she stopped making peas :)

My SD was picky when she was little. With the way I was raised, it drove me crazy that she wouldn't even TRY things. If we convinced her to, she would take a piece the size of a pencil point - no kidding! A piece so tiny there is no way you could even taste it, but she would still declare she hated it.

I remember at the beginning, I went out and bought all this stuff for her to eat, including dinosaur shaped mac n' cheese. She wouldn't eat that either, because it was not the mac n' cheese she was used to. Same manufacturer, (Kraft), just a different d*mned shape! It's definitely a way that kids try to have some control in their out of control little lives. Even in the "best" of divorces, it's still hard on them.

I finally decided that it was a ridiculous battle for me to fight. I realized I wasn't going to change her eating habits - she wasn't at our house that often. She was fed certain things at her mom's, so that's what I had for her. They were simple to have on hand, and minimal trouble to prepare. Her staple meal was the "right" mac n' cheese and broccoli. At least she was getting a veggie and some calcium ;) Mealtimes were MUCH less stressful on all of us. She even asked for some of what we were eating on occasion.

I did draw the line when she wouldn't eat something I knew she liked. ie, one time I made mini hamburgers. She wouldn't eat them. (oooohhhh was I mad - they were the SAME hamburgers that I always made, just "mini" because I thought she'd like cute little burgers!) Her dad was not happy either, and told her OK, you don't have to eat them, go to your room and play while we finish dinner. Later while we were watching a movie, she said she was hungry. We didn't say anything about her refusal earlier, just heated up the burgers and she ate them with no fuss, along with the cake we had for dessert.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 5:01PM
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"Kids get a choice when they are old enough to cook and clean up after themselves."


I hate picky eaters. I don't fix anything horrible or wild, so unless you have a medical reason not to you better eat up! That's how I was raised and I will eat, and like, just about anything.

I think since a cold turkey approach would be miserable you should have 1 fall back - a cold sandwich and milk. If she doesn't want the meal she can have that fall back, and nothing else, every night. She'll get tired of it soon enough. ABSOLUTELY no dessert or snacks without eating dinner - especially if she's been told no and then it happens anyway.

Does your DH like having her disobey him? Does he like not being respected? He must, since that is what he is encouraging with his No dessert/here is a Popsicle parenting. In a few years it won't be food . . . it will be boys and sex and drinking. At what point does he wise up and realize parenting isn't about 3 days of fun?? He's laying the ground work for some rough teenage years . . .

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 1:54AM
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Just a note from someone that was forced to eat what was made from dinner. There is something to be said for a less stressful dinner. When I was at a friends house and maybe a grilled cheese was made for one member or a BP&J what ever the dinner time was certainly more pleasant.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 7:11AM
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We do not "force" the kids to eat.

But if you don't eat your dinner then you get NO snacks or dessert later that night. I don't fight it or argue with them.

My son is a picky eater and will pick at his food at times, but he knows he either sucks it up and eats what he is given or he gets nothing.

The kids all have their favorite meals and I do try to make them often to please everyone.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 3:04PM
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We used to make a weekly menu and the kids took turns choosing meals for each day. It might also be helpful if you let her help you in the kitchen... she will be more willing to eat what she helps prepare. Even if she is only handing you ingredients or utensils... make her a helper and she'll probably be so proud of it. Right now, it's a power struggle and if you take away the struggle and empower her, she will probably stop making this an issue.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 3:53PM
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My SS just turned 10.
I try to take his food preferences into account when he is with us (I don't make a big spicy cauliflower and chickpea curry if we'll have him)
But it's "Tough cookies. You eat what I cook, or you don't eat" around our house.

So he's got a pretty good attitude about trying things now (he didn't used to).
If he tries it, makes a good effort to eat it, and is polite if he genuinely doesn't like it, then he can make a piece of toast and have some veggies and dip or something. But he still has to eat with us, at the table, at mealtime.

I also sometimes say "I know _____ isn't your favourite, but eat the small portion we give you, and I'll make sure you have a larger snack tonight" or something like that.

If he just turns up his nose and says "I don't like it" before he even tries it, then he can darn well sit at the table until bedtime. (We've never had to do that, fortunately)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 4:27PM
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I agree don't force things on kids you know they will hate, eg brussels sprouts et al, (kids tastebuds are way more sensitive yet uneducated than ours) but you and dad must present a UNITED FRONT. Hopefully mum will go along with it too, but you can't allow a kid to do food blackmail.

The fake crying etc sounds a little like my niece who is tiny and eats like a bird - does better with grazing - but is healthy enough to do gymnastics and have her own little six-pack. Her mum and dad do not stick to their guns so it's pretty much rinse and repeat, they say 'no dessert' then give in. As I say she needs to graze probably and I wouldn't be surprised if she turns out to have some sort of biological eating disorder, but in original poster's case, it's control and conditioning. A kid who changes their mind on the pot pie thing is doing a behavioural thing. Just make sure that the mum is down with it, you don't want stories of 'starving her' being told.

Dad has to be 100% behind it. If you are consistent, firm but reasonable, it will work.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 5:16PM
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Just a footnote. Stepson pretty much got his way all his life, talked worse to his mother than he would to a stranger, and when he lived with us, would often criticise what was being cooked. We always pointed out he didn't have to eat it and he was welcome to cook for us instead, which was rare.

When he did it was excellent, but he does not/will not cook in a remotely healthy way, even when we're trying to eat healthy, so it was a bit of an FU thing. He's in his mid-20's.

The die is cast early, and it may start with food but won't stop with it.

Don't be a nazi, but don't be a doormat.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 5:53PM
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Bf decided as we laid down for bed that it was time to talk. He said that he was not going to fight with his daughter and that if she didnt want to eat what was for dinner she could have something else. I replied that he can plan the dinners and that he can do the shopping and prep then. And that it just seems that no matter what I make, she don't like it, even if it something that her mum said she loves. I can make a PPJ and I don't do it right. This ended up turning into a big fight where he thought that I was too critical on his techniques of raising her.
That was not my intentsions and I made that clear to him after he hollared at me and I went to another bed to sleep. He came to me and appoligized for being so rude but he also ment what he siad.
This led to another conversation on him staying consistant with her. If he says no snacks he needs to stick to it no matter. He really didnt think it was an issue until I pointed it out to him, he agreed that he does give in too easily.
I told him that he is a good dad and that I was not saying he wasnt, I was just giving him my prospective as he does for me and my son. I also told him that I have stayed in the shadows for so long because everytime I try to talk to him about something like this he gets too defensful.
I am not rude, I have been there, been that way, and I got nowhere in those relationships. I don't nag either I just calmly speak to him - and it blows up in my face.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 9:28AM
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I think grazing is actually healthy, I have found that good food drives out the need for bad food. Having healthy fruits, carrots and celery cut and cleaned for snacks. Having a pitcher of water in the fridg for it to stay cold.

And I like, dont be a doormat or a Nazi.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 10:09AM
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Mom2, is your son your husband's bio child?

I'd stop cooking for her too. Let him deal with it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 11:13AM
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I think the problem with telling her BF to deal with the child is then its just a hop skip and a jump to lets keep everything seperate -- money chores etc. If your OK with that -- go for it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 11:39AM
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I disagree with it being a hop skip and a jump to keeping everything separate. When I put it back on DH to do some of the things I was doing for SD... that she obviously didn't like or appreciate, at first DH was a little resentful that I didn't want to do those things for SD and I think he had also gotten comfortable letting me deal with it. She didn't like what I put in her lunch. She didn't like the clothes I picked out for her. She wanted her dad's attention and since he's been doing those things for her, she has a better attitude with me and now I wait for her to ASK me to do things for her. I stopped offering because it felt like she resented my asking her... like I was intruding. Now, she comes to me and asks for what she wants and has way less attitude with me... except for the day or two after coming home from visiting her mom.

It would be tougher with an EOW child. Dad should do for his child when his child is there. He is worried about her not being happy (guilt parenting?) when she's there and the best way to avoid unhappy meal times is for dad to prepare the meal for everyone, not just his DD. As a wife, I'd appreciate my husband cooking a couple of times a week! (I don't have the dinner problem with SD because she loves food and I'm a great cook, DH only makes hamburger helper) But since he's been making her lunch, no complaints... and he puts the same things in her lunch that I did.

Oh, and since we talk about it instead of me making a picket sign and protesting... when I stopped doing those things for SD, even though he resented it a little, he had also agreed to do it after we discussed it. No marriage will survive if one unilaterally makes decisions that affect the other one. And our finances or other issues were not affected by me not making SD her breakfast, lunch or choosing her clothes. (and yes, SD should be able to choose her own clothes and we've tried that several times. The last time, she wore three outfits layered to look 'cool' but she wore shorts over jeans and a skirt with three tops that didn't match and well, DH is a neat (& control) freak.. it was too much laundry and she looked ridiculous! She's getting better though.)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 12:42PM
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Every family situation is different. Spouses work different hours, and have different commitments. But I agree with not making unilateral decisions.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 1:43PM
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KKNY where do you draw the line in the sand? What should a SM be responsible for and at what point is the bio-parent ultimately responsible? When is it overstepping, and when is it lack of responsibility on the part of the bio-parent?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 2:01PM
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I think, as Ima, said making unilateral decisions is not a good idea. To me cooking and preparing meals is not overstepping, but everyone should buy in to that.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 2:09PM
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I think if a person is nice enough to cook for someone, anyone, not necessarily a relative or friend, the food should be eaten. If a child is sticking up their nose at everything served and the bio parent (the one with the power) doesn't do anything about it, that the other parent has every right in the world to step back and say "you feed them".

Double-standards for S-parents. It's sickening.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 2:44PM
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Of course the step parent has every right to step back and say you feed them. And the bioparent has every right the next time the step wants something to step back.

some children are fussier than others.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 3:00PM
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Here's what you do. You continue to cook as normal and fix SD a plate with SMALL servings and offer it to her like normal. If she sticks her nose up at it she has two choices. 1. Go ahead and eat it if she's hungry or 2. Hound Dad to fix her something else. That way you arn't doing the "yours and mine" thing with the kids but you arn't being treated like hired help either.

You yourself said you will hold your bio son to the eat whats on the table or don't it at all standard right? Well, you arn't treating SD any different than you would your own son so no one can complain.

I'm a big believer in the if they're hungry they'll eat rule. We never force the girls to eat but we don't exhaust ourselves making three different things each mealtime either. If we gave them the option that's exactly what would happen! We don't have the time, energy or patience for it.

We also don't allow snacks or treats if they don't eat their meal. No excuses. They don't even get a drink till they knock a dent in the plate because they will GORGE themeselves on liquid and not eat every single time. You also have to turn off the TV.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 3:08PM
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Don't give her a choice. If she doesn't want to eat, cover it and save it for later. Usually when they know there are no options they eat, especially if there are conditional snacks later. Making something special for them empowers them and who doesn't like power. You will be forever jumping through hoops for her.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 4:29PM
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Exactly. I agree with Stargazzer.

"Making something special for them empowers them and who doesn't like power. You will be forever jumping through hoops for her."

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 4:43PM
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DS is not my BF son, I think that is one of the reasons why we don't get together and talk about her boundries more often. He raises her and I raise him- that is the way he likes it when it comes to her. However, he does give me his opinion on my parenting and does not take it well if I do the same for him. He provideds most of her care and I do most of the cooking for the family. He does help me out with DS and is just now starting to form a solid relationship with DS. I knew he would come around and if DS did not have the disibilities and the broviac and MIC-Key button then I would have expected him to bond sooner. But I was even unconvertable with DS's needs for a while and many people today think that he will break if they touch him wrong. Like BF's parents (others too) are always saying things like,"carefull, you don't want to pull out his button" or "carefull, you might hurt him." When things like this are said, I kindly remind anyone that DS is not china, he will not break, and if you do happen to pull his button out it will not hurt him, he does it to himself and I have accidently too. Rarely he even notices. I guess I can compare it to any other priecings, you just get use to them.

Yesterday I ended up talking to SD's mom. I asked her what she does when SD acts this way. Appariently she is the same as BF. She does not force her to eat what is for dinner. She has her take a few bites and has her decide weather she likes it or not. If she don't then she can have something different.
So I guess for now I will take a step back and let BF handle it. He can do the cooking when she is here -maybe that will get her to eat. At this point I have too much more on my plate that needs my attention. I have upcoming surgery and my son has medical needs too. I just hope that this is not a power trip on SD's part and someday she can appreciate me and show me the respect I deserve (I assume it will come with time, afterall, she is only 4.)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 7:59AM
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If that is the way they want to raise their daughter then there is nothing you can do about it. Let your bf prep and make the meals for her and stop wasting your time if bf doens't back you up and bm does the same for her daugther at her own house. Basically the child is calling the shots for both parents. Not your problem. it will be theirs when she gets older and demands her likings when its not food will money, clothes. the car etc...This will teach the child power in her hands...
In our house, i cook and if someoen doesn't like it too bad. My sd loves pretty much 99% of the cooking...she wants me ot cook...not her dad. So she does appreciate that. SS..very picky eater. he did the same to his dad in the early years and i didn't say anything accept defend my ss when he didnt' eat. I told my dh let it go..when he's hungry he'll ask... My husband didn't cater to his children. Me, i believe i make two choices in what i cook and if you do not like anything...its your bad..not mine.
His mother would give him frozen nuggets and fish sticks as well. But she had such a hectic schedual , has no time to cook fresh and when you want your own child to eat, you worry andyou bend. But if you do it on a daily basis it becomes a problem because the child says jump and you say how high....

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 10:44AM
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I don't believe in cooking separate meals ona regular basis. DD ate pretty much anything, she still eats anything and everything. I didn't cook 5 different things.

But i also do not believe in forcing children to eat somehting that seems gross to them. Ther are certain foods that i only recently started eating because those are foods that i was forced to eat as a child. I think forcing kids to eat certian foods can cause some food related emotional issues (dinner time becomes source of stress).

I believe in finding balance. No need to go overboard cooking special meals but no need to be harsh either.

Important to note is that most kids don't eat mushy goowei stuff, too many ingredients mashed together. somebody else complained on this forum how SKs don't want to eat what she cooks. But every dish she described sounded like i wouldn't eat themn either. A lot of sauces, gravies, unusual ingredients all mixed together. Kids don't like this stuff.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 12:58PM
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I would cook differnt types because i personally like variety. And i would make fresh mash potatoes and fresh chicken nuggets for ss when he would come. At first he was iffy and his dad would scream at him...which i did not like at all. i wont force any child to eat and i dont like screaming at the dinner table. I gave my dh a dose of his medicine once. Left both his kids mouth open. Needless to say, he has not done it since. are finicky...try to make the food fun looking as well. It looks cool and its fun to do.
I would make kraft macaroni for them iwth hot dogs...but the hotdog i would stand upright, cut into it to make it look like a octopus ...they went nuts over it! plus the get them to eat veggies i would create a city with cheese and was soo cool!
I know it hurts personally when someone doens't like yoru cooking..but sometimes its textrue....finedreams said it, most kids dont like gravies have simple pallets...especially if they a home where the mother doesn't cook, gives frozen meals..etc...etc..
My son is almost 4 now. He has smoked salmon with herbed rice. He eats Crab coconut soup...he loves lentil and spinach rice. Anything with tons of garlic is a bonus for him. He loves rich foods. I've taught him since he was 6 months old to eat everything..or at least try it. He tries many things and then refuses them..i'm ok with that. he!
p.s he hates jello....some kids love it. others dont.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 1:20PM
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"somebody else complained on this forum how SKs don't want to eat what she cooks. But every dish she described sounded like i wouldn't eat themn either. A lot of sauces, gravies, unusual ingredients all mixed together. Kids don't like this stuff."

Oh, I remember this. That was me you are referring to, finedreams. I was talking about a 5 hr stew that I made. Ok, maybe case in point there as far as too many ingredients for SS to like.

BUT the other recipe I described was one I specifically found FOR SS on a picky eaters' website---it was some sort of chicken simmered in a crockpot with a cream cheese sauce served over rice. The third meal I described was baked chicken tenders on skewers served with a sweet peanut butter dipping sauce on the side--taken from Family Fun magazine. I made these two dishes with my SS in mind. I almost never make sauces or gravies, unless we are having pasta. We do A LOT of grilling (chicken, fish, steak, burgers) and baked potatoes or rice, etc. and none of those things have sauces---yet it is still a struggle to get SS to eat much of anything. It's ironic because most of our meals are rather *plain* for SS. Every time we serve any kind of meat, he HAS to have ranch or ketchup to dip it in. Oh well---at least it gets him to eat and try new things! I made tilapia filets over the weekend (baked them in foil with pineapple and butter) and the only way SS would eat it was smothered in ranch. In my mind I was thinking YUCK. But at least he ate it--this is an improvement! :)
I think kids like what they are exposed to from an early age. SS is actually a HUGE fan of sauces and gravies because he gets a lot of that at BM's house. He loves noodles in alfredo sauce, and lasagna. We got to breakfast every weekend and he orders the same thing religiously--biscuits and gravy! To me, those are exactly what you said kids don't like--jumbled together, mushy, saucy, etc.

It just frustrates me when people sterotype and say "oh kids don't like exotic foods" or "kids don't like mushy foods" or whatever. OF COURSE parents should take into consideration what their kids like, but how are kids going to develop a taste for anything remotely *different* if not exposed? I had a friend growing up whose parents were food buffs--they looooved to cook, and always made excellent meals. Salmon on the grill, couscous, grilled asparagus, etc. But they would NEVER serve the kids that! When I'd be over at her house, the kids would get chicken nuggets or corn dogs, etc. while the adults ate the other stuff. My friend to this day is an extremely picky eater. Children like what they are taught to like for the most part.

You should see the organic menu at my DD's school. Chicken parmesan. Whole wheat spaghetti. Turkey pot pie with whole wheat crust. Tacos. Mini quiches. They have a wide variety of hot meals and I've never heard parents OR kids complain.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 2:38PM
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As a SM to kids EOW, I don't think you have much control over the situation unless your DH wants to make them eat what you prepare. (And I'm not sure how you actually "force" them to eat.) Some of that is probably a "power" struggle and some of it may be what they are used to eating at home. My DSSs, 13 and 15, who used to visit EOW but most of the time now can't be bothered, have NEVER eaten healthy veggies. They will eat mashed potatoes loaded with butter or french fries, but that's about it. I understand BM makes a lot of frozen quick things, like tater tots, chicken nuggets, fries, etc., and does a lot of "country" cooking, with biscuits, gravy, sausage, fried chicken, etc., so that's what they like. I cook very healthy, low-fat, low carb meals, with veggie sides such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, greens, etc., even when we're eating quick (what's quicker than the 3 minute microwave-in-the-bag frozen veggies?!) DH NEVER forced them to eat what I prepared, since his rationale for about everything that has to do with them has always been that they do things 1 way at home and can't be expected to change the few days a month they are with us. AND he's never wanted them to have an unpleasant experience while visiting, so for a decade, we've geared all weekend visits to focusing on fun for them (which, by the way, has backfired miserably on DH, since they now call the shots at 15 and 13 and hardly ever visit, since they always have something else to do in their hometown.) In the meantime, I gave up YEARS ago trying to make them eat healthy and would just make "something" that I knew they would like in addition to whatever else we were having, and we ordered pizza at least one night during the visit, since they of course love that. This certainly reduced my stress level. I was afraid early on that it would cause my DS with DH to not to want to eat healthy if his brothers got a buy on it, but since he was raised that way full time, he loves veggies and eats them regardless of them, thank goodness! So I guess the bottom line is, just don't stress yourself out over it, it's not worth it!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 3:14PM
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Its what you teach them from young. i believe. My son is not a picky eater. I wasn't a picky eater but my twin was terrible! and my mother didn't cook something either ate it or starved...too bad.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 3:31PM
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This thread also made me remember that I was so concerned about my DSSs not getting vitamins and minerals they needed to the point I bought Flintstone's vitamins for them to take when they were there. (They said they did not take vitamins at home.) I ended up stopping that about 5 years ago when DSS 15 ("Mr. Attitude" "Know More Than Everyone Else" even then) laid the vitamin on the carpet beside him where he was playing videogames rather than put it in his mouth. I stood in the doorway and watched my DS (then 2) go to pick it up then I said something to DSS about taking it. He glared at me like he could kill me but grabbed it just before DS did. That was the LAST time I offered him a vitamin.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 4:20PM
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