Friday, December 08, 2006

Spiritual Leader: OUT. Defensive Miffed Human: IN.

Remember that post about not sweating the small stuff? I was real confident back then, wasn't I? I'm sure I gave the impression of being one of those people who knows who they are, doesn't apologize for it, and because of this rich self acceptance, is always completely accepting of all other people, no matter their views or opinions.


Just don't get me riled up about power struggles over food, or how damaged my children will become if I don't force feed them their veggies and leafy greens. I am an eating disorder survivor, and right, wrong, or otherwise, I cannot and will not engage in a struggle over food with my children. I choose to spend my energy on their mental health, on enjoying mealtimes as a family, and on simply teaching them about nutrients and food choices in order for their bodies to run the way God intended. I may be a little unbalanced on this, and there may be a better way to go about the process, but for now it is what it is.

But I also care for other people's children.

Today I am internally freaking out about a family who engages in CRAZY struggles over food. To the point of waking children up at 4:00 am to eat whats been prepared for them, so that they can't "be rewarded" at my house by being allowed honey nut cheerios for breakfast. Can you spell potential eating disorder here? Or am I just so influenced by my own history that I automatically fear this outcome? North American statistics are pretty strong indicators of our propensity for getting the whole food pyramid thingy dead wrong and landing up with conditions that require professional intervention, so I have a feeling that its not just my own issues that are cropping up here.

If I were in their position, where would I want to send my children for care? A place where they feel comfortable, not afraid of what they'll be made to eat? Or a place where they'll learn to "mind" and eat whats been set before them? Do I approach them and tell them that I think their parenting choices may be dangerous?

I'm not willing to change the way that I serve breakfast at my house.
I think when I dig to the absolute bottom of why I'm hot and bothered about this, I have to identify two things. 1. I feel badly for these children. I think its a stupid battlefield for their parents to waste their energy on. 2. I feel like I'm being criticized. And I hate that. Its embarrassing for me to admit, but maybe by admitting it, I can get a little more mature about it, and a hopefully little less defensive.

Maybe after all of that, I can crawl back to yesterday's epiphany about God's annointing, prayer for alertness, and all that stuff that was so crystal clear about 12 hours ago. I still believe all of it.
I'm just not dumb enough to think that circumstances or people won't ever TICK me off.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you. These children are eating disorders waiting to happen. I knew a person who served her kids the cold supper from the night before, for breakfast. I cannot imagine a mother being so mean.

Anonymous said...

How thick is your skin, really? Ideally, you should approach them - but is it worth it?? I don't know - I wish I did - will it make a difference in the lives of the children? I don't know...

See, no answers here.

Anonymous said...

These parents have issues - and they will become greater ones as their children grow to a point where they can act out and start to rebel against the unreasonable restraints. I know that your caring brings some sanity to them, but how do you fight on their behalf without losing them altogether? I don't know.

Anonymous said...

this doesn't sound like "small stuff" to me. it sounds like crazy (the waking up at 4 etc.) stick to your guns. for the children's sake, perhaps start calling fruitloops "all bran" then they will tell their parents they ate all bran for breakfast. and if the parents find out and can't hack it, i bet there are a lot of parents just hoping a space will be opening up at your home.
so there.

joyce said...

thing is: I thought my standards were relatively high, since there's nothing junkier than honey nut cheerios served around here. Well, and the favorites: homemade pancakes, oatmeal with brown sugar, and cinnamon toast. But I WANT children to think that eating breakfast at my house is fun. I WANT them to feel empowerment because I allow them to decide what they'd like on their toast. THE NERVE OF SOMEONE TELLING ME THAT THEIR CHILDREN ARE ALLOWED TO EAT "WHATEVER THEY WANT" AT MY HOUSE. Believe me, there are times when they ask for three bowls of cereal, waffles with sauce, and toast with nutella, all in the same morning. I'm not THAT stupid. But I believe in listening to your body. I believe in respecting one's body. And I don't think that the choices they get here are EVIL. Sweet, yes. Chocolate pebble fruity-oh's? NO.
Gonna have to rely on the Holy Spirit to navigate this one.

Heather Plett said...

Oh man, I hear ya on this one. Having struggled with weight issues all my life too, I'm determined not to fight this battle with my kids. And yet, other members of my family feel differently, and tonight at my mother's house, her husband tried to force my kids to finish what was on their plates. Normally, I encourage respect for their elders, but in those cases, I allow them to ignore him.

Anonymous said...

totally agree. my kids have always eaten what they wanted to eat. they are both slim and active and without their baggage they often make healthier choices than i do (the elder, always, the younger, not so much. his dream meal is miss vickies salt and vinegar chips and chocolate milk. and he would eat it for breakfast. and occasionally does when i sleep in on a saturday morning.)

i didn't mean to say you were a fruitloops family, i just thought it would be fun to give them them the worst cereal ever and use a code word for the kids' sake.

i suppose that would mess them up even more.


Anonymous said...

oh heather
no wonder you're up.

joyce said...

Yeah, this food thing really, really hits a nerve for me. I have considered encouraging the children to water down the truth about what they eat here, but that's just building another system of lies and dysfunction. I must consider putting myself on the line here, making myself vulnerable to getting blasted. Don't children need a voice at times like these?
And yes, it also hits a nerve because I have a child who came out of the womb craving sugar. She preferred formula to breast milk. She had almost no need for food. But if anything sweet comes out-- LOOK OUT. Her lunches even now reflect me having thrown my arms up in the air and hoping for Gods grace. (have you ever checked the label on "oatmeal to go"? 10 grams of sugar. And its in her lunch every day. And that's all I'm saying out loud right now.
It hit a nerve for me. I constantly ask myself whether I should be more vigilent with what the kids eat. I constantly go back to not wanting to engage in that battle. And I don't leave shit lying around for them to gorge on.
Clearly, I could use some help here.

joyce said...

oh, and welcome Brenda. Which Brenda are you? or is it a secret?

Anonymous said...

and unbeliebably sad.

Anonymous said...

Joyce, you sound like the voice of reason. My mantra is everything in moderation. Let's keep the big picture in mind. Most mothers on this planet do not have the luxury of rationing sugar or policing food intake. We are a small minority who can analyze nutrition labels on our processed foods. If we model sensibility, our kids will eventually return to it even if they take the long way around.
At least that's what I'm banking on. I don't mean to sound like I've got all the answers for you-God knows I'm fumbling my way in the darkness too. Know that my comments are meant for consolation, not for judgement.

Anonymous said...

Is it only because I am old that I don't think there is anything at all you can do about parents like this?

Just continue to do what you know is best.

But, you can't change people like that.

I wish I could get back the time I wasted trying.

Judy - Anybody Home

Anonymous said...

I don't know. I do know what it's like to see someone parent in a way that I believe is really harmful. Kids need sleep more than they need that breakfast exercise. We know that a power-struggle with food is something a parent can not win. Food or potty training!
What can you say to parents? Tell them the truth, tell them from your heart, tell them that you care for their child (you obviously do). Tell them that you know that they are doing what they think they should but introduce another way.
Thinking of you!

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why someone would put their kids in daycare if they are THAT obsessed with something like this. You aren't beating the kid-and honey nut cheerios are not the end of the world.

I'd watch their behaviour, and if THAT has changed due to the obvious issues, I'd voice that for sure. I can't imagine torturing my children that. When we used a sitter, I know that my daughter had the odd thing I wouldn't have given her, but it was done so as a treat at the sitters. So long as it wasn't rat poison, I was happy.

I'm so never taking care of anyone else's kid.

Anonymous said...

I fear of writing an I might have to email you!
Very thoughtful post, Joyce.

joyce said...

"Most mothers on this planet do not have the luxury of rationing sugar or policing food intake. We are a small minority who can analyze nutrition labels on our processed foods. If we model sensibility, our kids will eventually return to it even if they take the long way around"
Exactly how I see it. Occasionally little demons pop up in my mind and suggest that I am simply LAZY and careless with nutritional choices. Yet, I don't actually BELIEVE that. I see the absolute obsessiveness that people turn to (and I say that with personal experience and first hand knowledge) and I think its another case of us having so much information. Info is good. But when we zero in on ONE subject and get out of balance in other spheres ie: loving our kids unconditionally, believeing them to be intelligent creatures who can make some of their own decisions, enjoying family mealtimes,remembering all the other million and one things we need to teach our children: respect, love,getting along, spiritual stuff,
anyway, this is turning into a lecture, and meanwhile, my children are not doing so well on the whole "getting along" thing...

Anonymous said...

They wake their child up at 4am? for breakfast? That is ludicrous!

I would only ever wake a child up if there was a spider in the bathroom and I need to pee. There can be no other justification.

Carlotti said...

Cherrypie, you take the cake. My second lol (yes, really!) before 7:00 a.m.

Romeo Morningwood said...

Doesn't everybody eat Breakfast at 4am?
Those poor kids need mass quantities of Froot Loops..and that parent needs to learn a few things about basic chemistry...and psychology...
oh forget it just give me the phone number I'll call her.