A Supporting Role

Bridge in NYC

“She just won’t eat healthy stuff! If I give her a cupcake and some broccoli she always eats the cupcake.”

“Think back to when you were eleven. If you have a cupcake and some broccoli in front of you, what do you pick?”

He shrugged. “The cupcake.”

“Right? Me, too. We’re not idiots. We pick what tastes best to us. As kids that’s the sugar. So you cannot put them both in front of her and expect her to pick the broccoli. That’s just cruel. She’s eleven. YOU have to make that decision for her until she is able to make it on her own and that is not going to be for a great many years. Get the cupcakes and junk out of the house. She is beautiful no matter what size she is but you and mom both have diabetes so she is at higher risk herself. Be the parent. Don’t sabotage her. Help her learn healthy habits that will last the rest of her life.”

We had this conversation every summer for five years running. Each year the same thing, like it was her fault. But this time? This time, somehow, was different….

This time he listened.

What made the difference? I don’t know.

It gets discouraging, saying the same things over and over again. There are days when I open my mouth to say, “Stop smoking!” for the millionth time and wonder if there really is any point. You never know, though, when the seeds you sow will fall on fertile ground and take hold. 


101 thoughts on “A Supporting Role

  1. I know that whenever anyone says ‘ought’, must’ or ‘have to’, I dig my heels in, logical or not. It isn’t a change in the logic or the listening that is needed, I think…but something fundamental, something inside and beyond logic, has to change.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I recently read an article, I think in Scientific American, that says when people challenge our strongly held beliefs, it triggers our fight/flight mechanism. It was a very interesting article and s little scary.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I can relate as an educator when I hear, “He doesn’t like to read. He only plays video games all day.” Being a parent is so challenging. I think that so many people don’t get the support and education they need to be successful. Keep reaching out with loving compassion. We have nothing to lose and so much to gain.
    And just so you know, I love your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Why do people smoke when they know it hurts them? Food is an even more complicated thing. There are hormones, emotions, chemicals at play. Parenting is something else entirely. I cannot tell you how often I see parents getting run over by their kids, refusing to set boundaries. Some know it’s happening and still allow it. Others are completely oblivious. I wish I had all of the answers. One thing I do know, though, is that it is easy to stand on the outside and know how something *ought* to be but something else entirely to actually live it. I get reminded of that fact every day.

      Liked by 6 people

  4. Well, heck, I’m a senior citizen and I’d still pick the cupcake over broccoli. But I did try to feed my kids healthy food when they were growing up, and it must’ve worked because they all like salads and non-processed foods. (Although I suspect that every one one of my grown girls would also pick the cupcake.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Even knowing the odds doesn’t always get you take take wise advice. I don’t like people telling me what I can and cannot do (as an adult), but you are right – say it enough times and it will eventually register. My Dad had heart disease and my Mom, too, but I didn’t really start taking care of myself until I was in my 50s.
    PS I out a little cheese sauce on top of that broccoli a.nd they ate it every time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My grandkids are arriving
    later today. They always
    have a double batch of
    brownies waiting for them.
    I was rushed shopping &
    bought a brand that has nuts
    in the mix. Have one with a nut
    allergy, they are getting donated.
    Yikes no brownies this time!
    These kids eat junk & I am
    sure not helping.
    Your note is a great reminder.
    Thanks Victo!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahh but when they do listen and make needed changes, it makes i all worth while and your time learning to know what to tell them makes them well and makes you well also by giving you that ‘good feeling.’

    Liked by 1 person

  8. At 11, i would have chosen the cupcake. At 13, nope. Now, nope. I can’t stand sweets. My body rebels against refined sugar. I wish it would do the same with other things, such as those that have 7 calories with 0 nutritional benefits.

    I do love this post.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’m trying elimimation. In my mind, I know that the only thing that needs elimination costs 7 kcals per gram. Cheese was really difficult to eliminate. Ice cream, nope. Someday the thing that costs 7 kcals per gram will be gone.

        If you ever move to Chicago and start a practice, please let me know.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I would like a cupcake, please.
    I love broccoli, especially steamed, and I’ve already had 2 veggies and a fruit today, but I would like a cupcake, please. Okay, I totally cannot have a cupcake, cause I had a cinnamon roll this morning, but it was homemade and that matters. Cupcake tomorrow, right?
    My mother did really well with the food and body stuff. I had it good. I emulate her.

    Change is hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Change is hard and that is true so all we can do is keep dropping the seeds and hope that they will land in good, ready soil and start to grow. We can’t do much more because change has to come from within. We cannot force it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’d have gone for the broccoli. Now if it was broccoli and potato chips…fat and salt over sugar any day! I think sometimes when you say things over and over to someone, once in a while you put it slightly differently and the penny drops. You might have done this time–or might have scared him…Good luck with your patients!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mindsets and lifestyles are inherited, more than the malady itself. It is the parent’s weakness for a particular food, or the need to be pampered, that is foisted on the child. If parents take pride in having certain delicacies in the fridge, and say ‘yuck’ to health foods, deep imprints have been created in the child’s mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Cupcake sounds good to me Maybe make it with applesauce so I can have the best of both worlds? 😉 My youngest has a well visit in a couple of weeks, so we get to have the fun food discussion. She is a teensy little thing, but her refusal to eat anything outside of like 10 items is tough!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Life is so cruel though, in general the enjoyable things make us unhealthy and the things that make us healthy are not enjoyable. It’s no surprise we all struggle with this. It’s like a mean joke.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh, my gosh. There’s not a week that passes where I don’t remember something someone once told me and go, “Oh! That’s what they meant! I get it now!” Now I store away those seeds, holding on to the in hopes I find the season (and reason) for their planting.

    I’m glad you keep at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Who in their right mind would think a kid would choose broccoli…ever? I think the most frustrating thing for anyone who has a diet restriction is that they are restricted from the things they want most. And life is too short to spend it in denial. But setting a kid up to choose is cruel. Did you ever hear about the experiment where they give kids a choice about eating a marshmallow immediately or waiting for a bit and then they can have two…. those kids who waited had better life outcomes….. oh really? I think we expect too much from kids. Give them the broccoli first and as a reward give them the cupcake.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. There’s a parable in the Bible that Jesus speaks on concerning sowing the seed and the soil it falls on. I’m sure that’s the one you’re mentioning?

    Either way, it’s one that I often recall when I feel like I’m just “talking”. Pouring your heart and soul into something, mostly someone, oft feels worthless because you don’t know if anything is getting through. I’ve often been told that the fruit of what I do may never be realized in this life, but if it is, may not be shown until much later in life.

    Keep on keepin’ on, Doc. Someone’s listening. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sheesh! Yes, our kids always had choices that were comparable: broccoli or spinach lol It’s hard for people to simply not buy fill-in-the-blank bad food item, but that really is the best way to go; just don’t even have it in your home!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. My husband and I did not have many disagreements; most were settled before we married. But one thing I knew without words was that he hated green things and would not eat them. He had agreed that he would not pass that preference on to our children and he kept his word. He never made a fuss when I cooked spinach or mustard greens, he just quietly passed them by.
    I made a point of teaching our babies to eat healthy things even if I had to put the dish on the floor and pretend to be a cow or a goat to get them to follow. I actually fed them many times until they were almost old enough to go to school. That way they did not have to think about what they swallowed. The kids responded well and ate healthy food — *until their mates taught them how to go for the sugar.*

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I remember a favorite saying I heard way way back in 10th grade: repetitio est mater studiorum. I liked that old teacher precisely because, living in a different world, he’d say things that seemed really wise but flew right over our heads. Now when our football coach talked about “reps” that made sense. I think maybe you could try barking at guy patients like a coach. Either that or get right up in their face like a mother. And stab the air with your index finger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I try all sorts of things. Humor. Guilt. Exasperation. Fear. Profanity. Something has to stick, right? I have not, however, barked like a coach. I’ll add that to the list! 🙂


  21. And then there’s the 70+ old man who drinks and smokes and says I’ve had a good life and if it kills me now the what they hey. I stopped smoking when my daughter said she was sad that I wouldn’t get to see her Uni Graduation. I stopped that day.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Keep talking. Some people only need to hear something once, but they’re usually ready to change anyway. Everyone else – it takes hearing it over and over again. My mom’s doctor told her to quit smoking 3 billion times. Finally, at 84 years old, she did. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I understand how. I used to get very frustrated when clients did not apply my fully supported (brilliant!) strategic recommendations on their brand, distribution, advertising, whatever. Until I realized that my job stopped at delivering the recommendation. Period. If they applied them, great! Elating. If not? I could use the same strategic reco at every other presentation and remind them that “I’ve already said that, keep thinking about it.” And sometimes, 2-3 years later, a client would tell me on the way to a meeting: “Oh, we applied your reco. Went very well.”
    Your job stops at the recommendation. Now if they don’t do it, spill it out again and again. Some clients (I mean patients) eventually cave in. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      • Do. It took me a while. Until my early 40’s, because I so believed in my recos, based on evidence that I couldn’t get why clients didn’t always follow. Then it dawned on me, that, a) other factors sometimes impeded/slowed implementation on the client’s side and b) they kept coming back, so I was probably doing something right. 😉
        And believe, once I started applying that, the relief was enormous. Cut stress down at least 50%. Do it. Starting Monday.

        Liked by 1 person

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