Hi! I’m glad to b back from vacation. I missed you! A post about food and Gramma’s struck my attention-while I was staying with-you guessed it- M’s Grandmother. The author wants parents to “leave the relatives alone when it comes to feeding your children.” I thought this post was interesting, sweet, but pretty clueless in terms of what happens in many homes.
She fondly remembers her days with her idyllic-Gramma, who likely doled out cookies and milk, warm hugs and hard candies. It’s sweet that she wants other children to have that experience, free from hyper-involvement from parents, or worry about sugar grams and veggies, but the reality is that many grandparents and relatives can be counterproductive with feeding and even downright abusive. In my opinion, parents need to protect their children in those cases.
I’m not talking about freaking out if there are extra desserts- M actually had one day on vacation where she ate ice-cream three times. I agree with the author that for the occasional visit, a more lax structure, and less balance or more sweets is fine.
But, here are a few examples where I do think we need to draw the line…
• if your parents/relatives force your child to eat or try foods
• if they make your child eat something to the point of tears or vomiting (certainly if they make the child eat the ‘gagged-up’ foods)
• if they are yelling or angry around meals about who is eating what or how much.
• if they are trying to get your child to lose weight and feed/talk about food or their bodies in harmful ways
• if they are trying to get your kid to gain weight by pushing, forcing food
• if you are trying hard to establish the Division of Responsibility with feeding and have extended visits, it is reasonable to ask relatives to try their best with it. In our early years with DOR, I often reminded my parents (as we had done some mild “portion control” in her early months…) to be sure to let M decide when she was done eating. “Even if she seems to eat a ton or nothing, I don’t care what you feed her, just let her eat until she is done.”
If your own memories of eating at home were traumatic, that’s a pretty good clue you should not leave the relatives to do whatever they want. If you were weighed daily, were taunted or dieted etc…
Ideally, before you leave your kids with relatives, eat a few meals together. Observe, listen. Let the small stuff slide (see my second linked post below) but protect your kids- not from cookies or calories, but from comments (“look at your tummy, you’ve obviously had enough,” “you have to eat all your food before you can watch TV, you’re too skinny”) and pressure with feeding.
Here is my post on how to talk to family about your child’s eating if their interference is not benign.
Here’s another with some more examples and phrases you can try.
What do you think?