I admit it. My child is a picky eater. I hear a lot about how other moms don’t want to be a “short order cook” for their children but I don’t mind making a separate meal for my son. He really only likes mac and cheese for vegetables, chicken nuggets or hot dogs for meat and milk to drink. But I give him fruit juice to make up for the fruit he won’t eat. When my son gets invited to other people’s houses, I pack something for him to eat. I don’t expect them to cater to him, of course.
So, here’s why I’m writing to you: one of my friends refuses to let him eat the food I pack for my son. She insists that he eat the meal she prepared. She says if he’s invited to dinner he needs to eat what is offered and to bring his own food to her home is rude. Help! Who is right here?
First, I think it’s important that you understand that it is VERY important that your son have a variety of foods on a regular basis. And just so you know, Mac and Cheese is NOT a vegetable (sorry). Chicken nuggets and hot dogs are not healthy foods. Further, fruit juice is loaded with sugar and, in general, has little nutritional value. It’s better to eat your fruit rather than drink it.
Second, it sounds like you think that your willingness to cater to your son’s limited palate is a good thing. It’s not (again, sorry). To continue this behavior is to deny your son nutrition. It’s best that you nip your behavior in the bud sooner than later. John Rosemond’s picky-eater plan is fool proof (and that’s why it worked at my house). Here it is in a nutshell:
Tonight at meal time, put one tiny morsel of each food item prepared on your son’s plate. Don’t say a word, just sit down, say grace (if that’s what you do), and start eating. When he inquires about his Mac and Cheese and hot dog, simply tell him that you realized that you were wrong to treat him differently than every other family member and that from now on, he’ll be having what is served. When he asks about the portion sizes (and he will ask), just let him know that once he eats EVERY bite of food on his plate, he may have seconds of ANYthing prepared. Continue this for a few days to a week.
Then make the morsels a little bigger. Then the next week a little bigger and so on. Eventually, your son will be able to enjoy normal portions of most any meal and you can feel good about providing your son with a healthy diet.
And now for the part you probably don’t want to hear. Your friend is right (really, really sorry). It IS rude to bring your own food to someone’s home when you’ve been invited to dinner! Not only that, by preparing food for your son to bring, you are expecting your friend to cater to your son. Worst of all, your son has to deal with the inevitable eye-rolling that occurs as soon as he hands your friend his special meal. So, fix the problem (that you created, I must add) and deliver some flowers with an apology to your friend. You’re lucky to have her!
Good luck and please let me know how it goes!
SusanSusan Eppley Leadership Parenting Coach, Speaker, Parent & Child Educator