August 22, 2006

Whose Fault Do You Think It Is?

Okay, so I was a little chippy last night on TV. The topic was obese and overweight kids, and the parents that deny there is a problem. Everyone who recognizes a parenting problem here, raise your hands. Are we unanimous? What? We're not? You, the expert from somewhere arguing that the parents aren't to blame?

I'm not usually a black and white person when it comes to issues. I can see the grey. I can point out the grey to others. I can dwell in the grey to make my point. This is not so grey. Not even for me.

My children are my responsiblity. They are of me. I feed them, I clothe them, I teach them, I discipline them and I instill values in them. I look to the rest of the community for support and help, but it is my job to make sure my kids are adding to, and not taking away from, that community.


Didja hear me in the back?

Having said that, it's never too late to start making some changes. I know what it feels like to have life beat up on you. I also know sometimes taking the tiniest steps of control can lead to bigger ones, and you can find accomplishment and happiness in the most basic places. So sorry for yelling. But it's yelling, not judging.

You teach them to walk, to ride a bike and wipe their own butt. You also teach them about nutrition, and hygiene and brushing their teeth. Hold your arguments that teenagers will do whatever they damned well please, including eating Doritos for breakfast. I know that. I did that. But if you're seriously telling me that the first conversation you've had with your kid about decent food is when they are a teenager, you can't even see the boat anymore. It's been gone that long.

The same way you can't all of a sudden start disciplining your child when they turn 13, you can't start teaching them about decent food then either. It is a process, ongoing from birth. They watch as much as they listen, and if you eat crap, they'll eat crap. If you're a lousy cook, ask the best cook you know to show you how to make 5 healthy dinners. And then make them.

Oh, and every child is a picky eater. So be quiet. We know. I've got one kid who won't eat fruit, and one who won't eat vegetables. Part of my brain is called 'imagination' and I have to use it.

Here are things I've learned:
French fries are not vegetables. Just, forget it.
If I can make muffins, anyone can.
It is very expensive to eat poorly. Learn how to shop.
Many kids love to cook. Let them help.
Make it pretty. If you throw a kid an apple, they'll toss it in the bin. If you cut up a bunch of fruit on a platter and plunk some vanilla yogurt in the middle, they'll fall on it like locusts. Same for cut up veggies with some dip. They will bypass the chips. Which you shouldn't be buying anyway.

Look, people come in all shapes and sizes, which I think is a wonderful thing. What isn't so wonderful is a nation that is eating itself to death, and hating itself in the process. Teach your kids that food is fuel, not a substitute for love or affection.

And make sure you give your child every possible tool to succeed - it's a hard world out there, especially if you're not there to protect them and make excuses for them. This article (click here) made me so sad. We're closing the barn door way too late.


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