Standing Ground and Not So Much

“Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he’s buying.” – Fran Lebowitz

I have mentioned before how we have battled food in my house… Invariably at every meal it is, “But I don’t liiiiiiiike thaaaaaaat!!!!!!!” Followed by howling, screaming, tears, and a gnashing of teeth. Well, gnashing of teeth without food between them.

I have tried cajoling, wheedling, bribing, threatening, time outs, giving in, etc.

Nothing worked. Yet.

I have a very vivid memory of camping as a child and ending up with a puke bug. My mother decided that I should eat some Chicken Noodle O Soup to test my stomach. Hell, I hated Chicken Noodle O Soup. No way, no how, was I going to eat that swill. I was hungry and I had not puked in a couple of hours. I wanted a hotdog and marshmallows, dang it!

What ensued over the 24 hrs was me continuing to refuse to eat the soup and my mother continuing to bring it out at each meal. No other food until I ate the soup.

It was a battle of wills.

As you probably already suspect, I did not win. Not at all. Ravenous after three missed meals, I gobbled down that soup and I learned to never refuse food thereafter.

I have resisted using this method in my own children because, well, I didn’t want it to be said that I had turned into my mother.

This weekend, my son and I had the battle of wills over Tuscan Bean Soup.

I won.

So did my mother.


90 thoughts on “Standing Ground and Not So Much

  1. As part-time caregiver to my 2 year old granddaughter I get to experience food battles all over again, although this time I can simply walk away when things turn into full blown war mode and let her parents handle the crisis.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 1) I never allowed my children or grandchildren to cry. I said: “I know how to cry and howl too. If you start, I’ll do the same but louder.” Then I proved it..Once was enough.
    2) when I retired I often used chinese noodle soups from a supermarket (5-6 for $1). All grandchildren loved it and called “Grandpa’s soup”. Their mothers were furious!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My mother’s rule was that we each had to try just one spoonful of whatever food she was serving. If we really didn’t like it, we didn’t have to finish it – but we got nothing else, either. Most of the time, we found we really did like what was served. I’m not sure who actually won that one, but we all grew into fairly healthy adults, so somehow it all worked out.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. We have little control over which foods we like or dislike.

    My wife loves mushrooms – I cannot bear the smell of them cooking and the texture of a mushroom in my mouth.

    Red/green/yellow peppers smell awful to me and I just cannot stand basil (or any other) pesto.

    My wife loves vegetables, I prefer fruit but can tolerate vegetables (even broccoli but not celery).

    I’m sure there must be some evolutionary explanation for food preferences. E.g mushrooms can be dangerous. Spiders are not food, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My stepfather made liver and onions for us about once a week. He insisted that we eat it, claiming that it was good for us. Come to find out as an adult, that liver is very high in cholesterol. Thanks, stepdad, for the heart attack.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The irony is, my oldest ate like a champ as a toddler and child–any veggie or fruit I’d put his way. Now as a 17-year-old, he acts like a vegetable is a death sentence. And there’s no making him eat now, though I can kindly request which he’ll usually acquiesce to, given the good kid he is. I figure next year in college, after a couple weeks of eating nothing but crap, he’ll remember those fruits, veggies, and whole grains actually made him feel pretty good, and he’ll make a voluntary return to them. All we can do is set the groundwork, right? πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really need to do this with my kiddo but Oh My God he is the most stubborn child who ever lived. All his teachers in kindergarten and school have told me that, so it’s not just me. My life is just one never ending battle and I just want to surrender and live in peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You know i came here to convey to u my regards πŸ™‚
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  9. This is a topic really close to my heart right now. Growing up, I ate what my mother served or I didn’t eat that meal. Period. End of story. My mother despised picky eating, and now that I’m an adult, I do too. My husband’s home was opposite — his mother made her kids whatever they wanted to eat if they didn’t want what she had prepared for dinner. Somehow my husband made it out of there loving any and every food (and he wouldn’t be my husband if he was a picky eater since I think picky eaters are annoying), but his sister basically eats only bread and sweets. His sister and her family visited for Christmas, and while my children had to eat their tortellini soup for dinner before having a cookie for dessert, her children got to eat snickerdoodles and apple pie for dinner. It was NOT fun trying to tell my 3 y.o. that he couldn’t eat dessert for dinner. Anyways, since my SIL only likes bread and sweets (since she was allowed to not like other foods while growing up), now her kids only like bread and sweets (since she won’t make healthy food for them since she hates most foods). Vicious cycle.

    I struggle with my kids though because they are skinny bean poles. Overall they will eat what I feed them, but sometimes they won’t. I’ve told our pediatrician my rule (that they have to eat what I serve for dinner or else they don’t eat) and he thinks I need to keep enforcing it. Now I do try to make “normal” foods (so I’ve never made liver, for instance), but I don’t make kid-friendly meals (chicken nugget, mac ‘n cheese, etc.) just because they don’t like whatever it is I’m making. I also give them choices at lunch time to let them know that they do have autonomy as well.

    Am I scarring them for life by making them eat my dinners? I have no idea. I’m sure they’ll have something to complain about me to a therapist someday, but at least they [hopefully] won’t be picky eaters. Fingers crossed till then.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Kind of funny, we never had a battle of wills over food in my house. I simply dropped that power struggle, eat or don’t eat, whatever. It helped that my kids had healthy appetites and weren’t going to be harmed in the least if they chose not to eat. Anyway, they fought with their own selves! Seriously! They’re grown now and they still do it. My son recently had a long debate with himself over cranberry sauce and how he ought to eat it but he didn’t like it. I told him it makes no difference to me whether or not he has cranberry sauce, but he was troubled about it so he forced himself to try a few bites and then he had to make sure everyone knew he didn’t like it.

    The moral of this story is that you simply cannot win πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good for you. I totally lost on this one, sadly.

    My son loved everything the first time I cooked it. Then he hated it for ever after. I have a wonderful recipe for what I call “Pizza pasta” — It’s basically pasta with mozzarella and tomato sauce (pizza was very expensive in Switzerland). He sang its praises. 2nd time? Nope. HE tried it. He always tried it.


    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is one of the shortest but funniest posts that I’ve yet to read in blogger-sphere. You have my sympathy but withholding food does work. Just make sure your children don’t sneak to the cupboards or the fridge later in the evening.

    I was fortunate that my children ate almost every home cooked meal during the years that I stayed home to raise them to their early teen years.

    When I was a child, a long time ago, there was no question if I ate or not. I loved all food but did not like eating the farm raised meat and it was then that I faced punishment if I refused the beef, pork or, chicken.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Growing up in a home where we were always reminded that food was an expression of love, rejecting any would be unacceptable, to Dad as provider and Mom as cook. It just never happened. If we didn’t like it, we went to bed hungry. My kids never challenged anything, until late teens when they embraced the meat-free, gluten-free, taste-free phase. It didn’t last.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have no advice to give. But your tale does remind me of someone else who would have approved of your mother’s strategy. When I was three, my mother went into hospital for removal of a (benign) tumor. The year was 1934. We had a German cleaning lady who then came in full-time during the time I was “motherless” both to watch over me and prepare the meals. On the first morning, she presented a bowl of some strange hot cereal I had never seen before. It wasn’t oatmeal, or wheatena, or farina and it didn’t taste good and after the first bite I knew I wasn’t going to swallow another mouthful. I wasn’t a problem eater. To the contrary, I generally inhaled food. But this sticky mess I refused. It was rock meeting hard place. The cereal reappeared at every meal, unheated, and getting gluer each time. That’s what happened to naughty ungrateful children in Germany, she declared! When my father came home from work on the evening of the second day, I broke down and told. Of course, he spoke to the cleaning lady and the cereal disappeared for good. But as soon as my mother was back home again, the cleaning lady disappeared too. Perhaps because of her treatment of me, but more probably because she had a boyfriend in the American Bund (Nazi Party) who forbade her to work any longer for Jews, especially Jews who didn’t know how to bring up children!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My daughter would not eat vegetables, then…a combination of her bowels getting backed up and a virus had her puking stomach contents everywhere. It was followed by a pediatrician telling me ( post x-ray) that she was literally full of shit.
    My four year old had an adult strength BE prep, a gigantic BM that impressed even her, and a true understanding of the value of eating her vegetables !
    Sorry, I know, we nurses and our predilection for gross details, couldn’t help myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My mother would ask me the night before school when making sandwiches what I would like as a filling. I would often reply, “Anything.” For lunch the next day I opened my sandwich and there in the middle was a piece of cloth between the buttered bread! A bit of a surprise for sure but I laughed and thought it was a great joke. From then on I gave a proper reply. And started making my own sandwiches not long after that too.
    And my picky eating brother who only ate potatoes, meat, carrots, cheese and vegemite growing up now eats practically anything in adulthood. Who would have guessed?
    We had to eat everything on our plate before we could have dessert. I have a sweet tooth so my plate was always clean. Broad beans were an exception though.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Between my natural brothers and sisters, my foster brothers, and the children were looked after for Children’s Aid, there would on average be anywhere between 10 and 12 children at our house at any one time. Can you imagine the chaos if my mother had agreed to feed each one of them just what they wanted to eat. Nope, you ate what she cooked, or you went to bed without eating. (And then almost without fail, within an hour or so, my mother would sneak into our bedroom with a sandwich for the offending child. Lol.)

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I have been lucky to have two out of three children that eat most things. I have found that the very best strategy I have used is to get my kids to help make dinner, or grow the food. I’m not sure how old your children are, but it works for me. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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