27 Feb Feeding Your Kids from a Dads Perspective
I am sure that every dad, everywhere, has a different idea about how to feed their kids. I do my best to give my children balanced meals when my wife is not around but I do not stress too much if it is not a hundred percent on target. I know some dads that go to extremes in making sure their kids eat healthy and then I have met others who must not have been taught an ounce of nutrition in their own childhood. For the sake of my gender I will not belittle the latter since I am not perfect myself. I will just say that I do not agree that a piece of cake and a bag of chips are nutritionally sound, at least not all the time.
Generally when feeding my children I do my best to include the veggies, fruits, protein, and carbohydrates. I do my best to stay away from too many sweets and to get them to eat their veggies. But since being under a dad myself who made us sit at the table until everything on our plate was gone I have to say I am not that guy. I try to get the kids to taste different vegetables but as long as they will eat a vegetable I am not going to force them to eat something they do not like. I remember spending long torturous hours sitting and looking at a plate of peas. I was not a picky eater, I liked most vegetables but peas were not one of them. It did not matter to my dad, after all there are starving kids somewhere. I was always very generous and offered that he take my peas and give them to those children, but alas, this did not go over well.
That being said, it is most probable that they will acquire tastes for other foods as they get older, at least I did. I can now eat peas without feeling the least bit vomitous. I know some people are picky eaters all their lives but they do not really know what they are missing if they do not give different foods a chance when they get older. I believe in offering some of the foods that my children say that they do not like off and on or preparing them in different ways to see if that makes a difference. I know it has worked for me and it is always worth a try. Now, that being said, if one of my children will not eat any vegetables we have a problem. They have to pick one or two vegetables that they can tolerate or else they will not be getting the sweets. That is a deal breaker.
I have a brother who is adamant that his children eat only healthy foods, lots of organic, no sweets or cereals, and in my opinion some pretty tasteless stuff. His kids ask for cereal and sweets but no dice; that is until they come to their aunt and uncles house. I have had discussions with my brother about his eating preferences for his children and we have come to an understanding. We eat healthy but we do allow cereals and sweets and if they come to our house they will find these things. I think that allowing your children to have sweets in moderation is fine and I have told my brother that when they are not with him they act like ravenous animals when they do come into contact with these foods which it seems to me defeats his purpose. And I know that I am not the only place they will come in contact with sweets and cereals. When they visit another child’s home or other relatives I know they have the same issues.
When they come to my house they have marked out all the sweet spots and etched them into their memories. They head straight for the cereal, the candy drawer, or the cabinet where we keep the Pop Tarts. When we go out to the grocery or drug store they are all over me to buy them some candy. I suppose we have become the favorite relative’s house but then I do not know what goes on other places; perhaps these children have a system and are eating way more sweets than we know. My poor brother has been outnumbered I am afraid.
When we visit his house we all eat what is offered us whether it is whole wheat pancakes or tofu casserole we eat it. Our children will roll their eyes and they do not ask for seconds but we eat it, and often we hear “Can’t they just come here?” But I do not catch my children sneaking any food home in their suitcases. On many occasions however my nieces and nephews have been found with a box of Pop Tarts, candy bars, or cookies in their suitcases when leaving our home. That does not sound like we are great parents I suppose but since we give our children sweets in moderation we do not seem to have that problem.
I used to get a stern talking to by my brother but he has weakened over the years and I believe he has lost some of his resolve since they have gotten older. I am not in any way saying this is a bad way to raise your children or that my way is right. And I totally understand when my brother starts ranting about cavities and how much money he spends on dentists.
I have met other parents with the same convictions that my brother has and some do not have trouble with their children wanting sweets. Perhaps these children’s taste buds have gotten used to a diet without sweets and they are satisfied. I think part of the problem was that my brother and sister-in-law were not always in total agreement and she may have allowed them some treats. Just speculation on my part.
I have another brother who is a wonderful baker in his own right. He can bake some homemade iced raisin bread that with just the smell alone could take down a grown man. He spent some time in his youth as a baker in an exclusive restaurant where we grew up. He also is a pretty mean fry cook. Nutritionally speaking he is my older brother’s worse nightmare. Not that there is anything wrong with homemade bread but the way my brother cooks you could see yourself getting blocked arteries within a very short time. He has been scolded on several occasions by his doctors and has cut back quite a bit in these last few years but his children have been schooled in deep fried deliciousness.
I do not know how we all three got on a different page of the nutrition book but we did. I am just thankful that I fall somewhere in the middle. I feel guilty sometimes that I should be feeding my children more like my older brother and then I feel really good about myself when I think about my younger brother’s cuisine. I think as men, and I am not speaking for all men, we should just be very grateful for our wives and how I believe they keep things in balance. The men in my family tend to go a little overboard when it comes to food. Probably because we had so much time to sit and contemplate our food when we still lived with dear old dad. What is weird to me is that my oldest brother was the worst complainer about how dad made us eat and was the one that tried his best to camouflage his vegetables underneath the chicken bones or feed them to the dog. Perhaps it is guilt that motivates him? And my younger brother turned out kind of like my brother’s kids in wanting to eat anything and everything.
So I am resolved to the fact that everything should be done in moderation in nutrition and in life. I want my children to be nutritionally sound but I also want them to have some of the small pleasures in life as well. This is the conclusion I came to after hours of staring at peas.
Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College. As president of morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.