Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mean Mom

I have a friend that went on a cooking strike. When her kids became overly critical of her cooking (which is fabulous, I have to say) and just whiney in general at dinnertime, she called it quits. For a week, she didn't cook one meal for them. Her husband and boys, then ages 5 and 8 (the boys, that is, I think the husband is forty-something), had to fend for themselves for three meals a day. Eventually, the boys apologized and she went back to preparing their meals. She claims that the whine factor at dinnertime has diminished drastically thanks to her little experiment.

Well, I am really close to implementing it myself. At least four out of every seven nights, neither of my boys eats dinner. They squirm in their chairs, poke at their food and complain. Once Liam declares that he's not eating whatever it is, Evan follows suit. The both pull off their bibs and become general disruptions while the other three of us try to eat.  We have a rule that you have to stay at the table until everyone is done eating, so letting them down to go play is not an option.

Most of the time, Sydney eats her dinner. She may pick around the vegetables, but she eats everything else. However, last night she was just as bad as her brothers. It's not like I fixed something gross (slow cooker cranberry pork chops, pasta, green beans). She was just in a mood, I suppose.

So after dinner, they asked to go to the pool, which has become our nightly summer ritual. We said "no" since we went in the morning. Then they asked to play Wii. And I just snapped. I told them that children who don't eat their dinners don't get rewarded with fun things and I forced them to go grocery shopping with me after the dishes were cleaned up.

My three children had to march through the grocery store with empty stomachs and I didn't give in to a single one of their pleas for samples or "yummy" (preservative-filled) foods.

Was that mean?  Was it mean enough?  And what do I do now when they pull their "I don't like this...I don't want to eat this...This is yucky...I want something else" routine?  Any ideas?


  1. Good for you! Not too mean. They won't starve, and hopefully they will learn.
    I had a friend who's kids were so finicky that when they came over to my house they wouldn't eat what I fixed (nothing strange) and their Mom asked if I could fix them a peanut butter sandwich. I said no (I'd seen thier habit at their own house so I knew Mom fixed them whatever they wanted to get them to eat). I felt bad for years, more at their Mom's reaction them my no. Stick to your guns and hopefully it won't take long til they eat (at least most) of what they are given.

  2. I don't think it was mean enough!! We have had many talks with Raley about not saying anything because it will influence Clay (much like you desribe with your boys). While I try to not make things I know they don't like, when I try out a new recipe (which I also try to not be something I know they won't like) we have some rules. They have to try it with a bite that is witnessed by a parent. If they don't like it they can make themselves a peanut butter sandwich or something. I also like to ask what it was they didn't like about it and next time I make it I adjust accordingly. Clay is a lot harder than Raley. He used to eat anything you put in front of him but now he is leary of new things. I would suggest you find something mean to do instead of letting them stay at the table. They seem to get a kick out of ruining your dinner too. Maybe the meanest thing I can suggest is that when only Sydney eats without causing an issue, then she gets a reward (swimming/Wii) and the boys don't. Around here you only get dessert if you ate your food (and your room is clean) and if you fixed yourself peanut butter you don't get dessert either :)

  3. In our house, Maddie is required to taste everything at her meals. One bite is all she has to have. If she doesn't like something, she doesn't have to eat it, but she doesn't get anything else until the next meal. No matter how hungry she says she is or how many times she whines for "snacks." If she refuses to even take a bite (which has only happened once) she's sent to bed immediately after supper.

    I was a super picky kid and declared that I didn't like things without ever even trying them, so our rules make sure Maddie doesn't do what I did. 98% of the time she tries something she ends up eating it.

    We also have a rule that you just have to eat until your belly is full. No clean plates required. Her newest "trick" is to claim to be full after 3 bites. I let her do it and then deny her requests for snacks 15 minutes later by reminding her that she's too full. I'm trying to teach her consequences. Whether or not it's working is another story.

    Oh, and I NEVER make Maddie a separate meal from what we're having. I try to make things that I know she'll like, but she doesn't get her own special meal.