Problem, How would you handle it? : LUSENET : Country Families : One Thread

I love haveing my family come for Sunday dinners, I usually make a large salad, and there is always a couple bowls of fresh veg"s, I fry chicken, and have a desert. Well my Grandaughter, and her child, won"t eat veg. or salad, And if the meat happens to be a roast,they don"t like that ether. The thing is the father trys to make the kid eat some veg. and she puts up a fit at the table, I have watched a perfectly good time go down the tubes, over the table, and I don"t like that food. I keep my mouth shut, but quite frankly it is getting old. I was always taught to eat what is on the plate. My grandaughter and her child usually just eat a little piece of meat, and of course the desert!!!What do you all do, or would do?

-- Irene texas (, February 06, 2002


I would try to change the subject, or have a talk with the Father ahead of time. These are things that should be worked out at home, not at a guests house.

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (, February 06, 2002.

As far as what they eat, I would just talk to the Granddaughter and tell her to bring something along that she and her daughter would eat. I would also be up front and tell her, that the fight to get the great-Granddaughter to try things is making meal times unpleasant, and ask them not to force that on her at your house. Give them a chance, they might be really willing to work with you.

-- Marci (, February 06, 2002.

Ditto what Melissa said! Tell the father to deal with the problem at home and not at your table! It sounds like a "control" problem going on! Be prepared for the father to be unhappy. Tell him that you invited your family to a meal to have a good time, not to listen to him discipline his child!

-- Ardie/WI (, February 06, 2002.

Hi Irene, I would ask the father of the child to not make the child eat (she's getting attention and by now it's becoming a game). She'll eat when she's hungry and if she doesn't, she can eat when she gets home. (She'll probably eat if she's ignored and no one pays attention to her). You have put alot of time and energy into the meal and shouldn't have to witness this kind of behavior. Ignore them and make the meal you want. We also had no say as to the meal. We ate what my mom cooked and if we didn't like it...tough. There was 10 of us to try to please, but my mom never asked what we wanted, she cooked the food, set it out and because we knew better, we ate it or made us a peanut butter sandwich later!

-- Annie (, February 06, 2002.

By all means do the talking with ahead of time, maybe even on a different day, and not during the meal. You do not want to become part of this little scene.

-- mary (, February 06, 2002.

I'd also ask her to bring a sack meal for the two of them..BTW, forcing a child to et what is on their plate only causes upset..(same as toilet training issues)'s what i always recommended for those picky eater age groups" Tell the child that he or she may serve themselves from the food available..they may put as much or as little on their plate as they choose, BUT, they will eat all they put on their plate. You'd be so surprised how well this works...unlike most adults, kids will not eat unless they are truly hungry, and there ahve been studies after studies, that when you give a kid the choice, they will mysteriously select a wider variety of foods! The first few times you do this, the kiddo will test you by taking probably a quarter of a teaspoon of food, put it on her plate and give a self- satisfied grin....who cares? She'll eat it, because kiddos understand when a pact has been made...then she will sit at the table and want more'll be a struggle for her to ask if she may have the veggies please...some stubborn kiddos will eat small bits of food for two days, but then hunger comes along...picture some giant piling food on YOUR plate that you do not want....hmmm..anyway, I have done this with all of my children as well as numerous others in my home and in my practice as well..the food wars end, the child learns to select their own portions, and there is joy in Mudville...try it sometime..all you parents of picky eaters..the kids will rigorously stick to the's harder for the parents to do so..LOL

-- lesley (, February 06, 2002.

Well, if I were in your situation, I'd state quite calmly that the menu is "Take it or leave it", if they're not hungry, fine, more for you. Depending upon how you serve the food (pre-fill the plates or family style where people help themselves, the rule (at least in our house) is that what you take, you eat. It is hard not want to fill a plate for a child, but start with a 1/8 cup measure of veggies and so forth. And of course, "no dessert if you don't finish your food". The hardest thing is that the child has a picky Mom, which doesn't help, but they're not at Mom's, they're at Grandmom's (did I read the post right), and at her house you play by her rules.

For small children, at least one bite of everything (it is not uncommon for people to develop allergies to food items they ate almost to exclusion as children), and when they are old enough to understand, they are told "when you are grown up and pay the bills, you can decide what to eat, until then, you will do as you are told." People are doing their children a disservice when they never expose them to different foods, or allow them to turn up their noses without trying a good mouthful first. I'm sure we can all remember food we didn't like as children but like quite well as adults.

I think the Tightwad Gazette book (I have the big book, so don't know which one of the three volumes of the old set it's in) had the one of the best discussions of dealing with picky eaters I've seen in a while.

Another option is to have a visit without food, which would completely eliminate the problem.

-- GT (, February 07, 2002.

Lesley, I have to disagree with you on one point. You said kids won't eat unless they're truly hungry, not so. There're a lot of fat kids and they're not hungry all the time-for food that is. Kids eat to fill up the emptyness in their lives just like adults do-it has nothing to do with food hunger.

-- Cindy (SE. IN) (, February 07, 2002.

Gotta agree with Leslie. Politely ask them to bring food that they will eat, maybe enough to share with everyone else if it's something everyone else would like. If they ask why, tell them it upsets you too much to see the power struggle every Sunday afternoon, as you would rather the little one be forming happy memories of your house. Then, let it go. I know it's hard to see kids wasting food or manipulating parents and situations, but they aren't your responsibility. The folks have to deal with them all week, you just need to turn a deaf ear and blind eye to it for a couple of hours. Tough to do, I know!

-- melina b. (, February 07, 2002.

Perhaps you might want to show the father my answer, Irene.

When my son was little, every meal was a battlefield. He wouldn't eat this or that or the next thing. Or he'd dawdle for hours at a meal. One day,when he was about 5 or 6, I looked him straight in the eye and told him I didn't care if he starved to death! I put the dish in front of him and,of course, he wouldn't eat. So I said,"Oh,you must not be hungry!". I took the food away and excused him from the table. He got nothing to eat or drink exept water until the next meal, which was a repeat. By the third meal, he was eating but dawdling, so I excused him again. Boy, by the next meal, the kid was stuffing his face like there was no tomorrow.

He is 38 now and we still laugh together about that time!

-- Ardie/WI (, February 07, 2002.

Cindy, I was referring to any "normal" child who is in a power struggle over food, not kiddos who already have some psychological problem..there are exceptions to every rule of course, but most children will eat well when they are hungry and pick at food when they are not so hungry and refuse food when they are not hungry at all. There are some parents who become so fixated on the amount of food their child eats that they actually believe the child will "starve" if the child does not eat a full plate of food three times a day! Most of the time, it is the parents, not the child who have the in point,I had to laugh at my own oldest daughter when they visited last year..grandson was a little over 2 years old..first and only child after 10 years of marriage....Amy made him a plate of scrambled eggs and toast.he pushed the plate away and whined...she then got up from the table and served him a bowl of applesauce..more whining and more pushing the food away..I watched in amazement as she again went to the cupboard and fixed a bowl of cream of wheat for him! He never did eat any breakfast and she became angry with me when I tried to suggest that if she treats mealtime as if they were in a restaurant, she'll be pretty tired over the next 18 years and he will be a spoiled brat. It is so hard for young parents sometimes to see that their child is a healthy little person, learning how to manipulate the adults around him..Now that he is 3 and a half, thank God she has seen the light and has learned that he will not starve to death in front of her eyes if he misses a meal.

-- lesley (, February 07, 2002.

One thing that has not been addressed is that it appears that the father and mother do not seem to be in agreement on this issue. At a time other than the Sunday dinner, casually bring up an "Oh, by the way" statement that you "have noticed" that they seem to have a little bit of difficulty with their daughter. This may be the tip of the iceberg of a deeper problem--two different standards in the home with the child playing one parent over the other to the child's "advantage". If mom and dad are not in agreement, the child will always have something to make a fuss over. The child needs to see that the parents are in total agreement about how she should behave in any given situation.

-- Cathy N. (, February 07, 2002.

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