Are you a parent…or a push-over?

I will start this post by saying that if you aren’t up for a dose of truth and reality then you should probably close this page now and not read any further.

I was on vacation last week with my family and I have to tell you about our experience at a restaurant one night when we were out for dinner.  Actually there were two incidents that happened that night that left me stunned and enraged.

First, there was a family seated at the table next to us and the kids were wild!  Screaming, running around standing on their chairs, feet on the table…it was madness.  Now, as a parent I do understand that eating out can be a challenge…but that’s where parenting comes in to play.

As a parent it is your job to teach right from wrong…at the very least maybe give a good healthy, “Stop it!”  As these kids were getting more and more out of control the mom, who up to this point was doing her best to completely ignore her children, pulled out a portable dvd player from her purse and plopped it in front of these kids to quiet them.  The food hadn’t even hit the table yet!  From there they went into a trance.  The food came but they didn’t eat or drink and barely blinked.

I am guessing that it is likely a part of their normal routine–plop the kids in front of the magic baby sitter (aka TV) to eat a meal.  Who carries a portable dvd in their purse???  What has this family taught their kids?

Responsible parenting is tough.  It’s pretty much the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done.

The second incident that night stared a family that came into the restaurant with their little darlings in tow and in hand, a big bag from a fast food restaurant that starts with Mc.  OMG, really?

You are going to eat at a great restaurant with an incredible variety of healthy options but, you are bringing in junk food for the kids, how absolutely awful.  I listened as the mother explained to the waiter that the kids just wouldn’t eat anything but that faux food. My thought…wow, you have failed as a parent.  (My husband even took the opportunity to Tweet out the #fail).  You have taught them that it is ok not to eat healthy food.  You have laid the foundation for a lifetime of excuses, bad habits, potential health problems…way to go.

Again, parenting is tough and yes there will be times that kids don’t want to eat but if you give them fries, pop (soda for my American friends) and fried food as the alternative you are giving them a death sentence.  How are you going to feel when you child is diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes?  How are you going to help you kids cope when they become obese?  What favours are you doing for them by going to the drive thru for those fries??

It’s lazy.  Yup, I said it.  You aren’t up for the potential melt down?  You want to let the little ones control the menu options? Just spineless enough to let them get what they want as opposed to what they need? Toughen up as the parent, its a life or death matter.  Trust me, as a former obese kid/teen it was awful and it still stays with me.

I get emails and comments from people each and everyday from clients and friends telling me, “I don’t like that healthy food”, “salad is boring”, “just a little cheat is OK right?”   I could write a book on lame excuses.

So is it exciting and fulfilling to be overweight or unhappy with how you look/feel?  How fabulous do you feel when you can’t fit into your pants?  When you are huffing and puffing because you had to walk a flight of stairs, is that exciting?  Suffering from lower body joint pain because the stress your knees, hips and ankles are under supporting extra weight….that has to be a good time, right???

You have to eat real food and you have to take that 10 minutes to make it.  Is that so overwhelming???  puh-lease???

Excuses for not eating properly will give you obesity, knee pain, back pain, health issues (diabetes, high cholesterol, and on and on).

So when you eat that sleeve of cookies or have that cake or drive thru for your dinner think about it.  What are you doing? Why would you self inflict this on yourself or your family?

What do you want to teach your children?  That it’s ok to eat like crap?  It’s ok to ignore your kids and let the electronics watch over them?  Don’t make healthy choices…make convenient ones?

Or do you want to teach your children healthy choices for life.  That you care enough for them to make tough choices for their benefit.  That they are the most important people on earth and you want them to be great adults?  Remember, you are not raising children, you are creating responsible adults.

Agree or disagree? Let me know your thoughts.  Even, add some of your strategies for healthier kids, parenting skills, tips and tricks.  Love to know what you think!

 

Comments

comments

25 comments

  1. Great article! As a nurse and new mom I totally agree with you. My husband and I are constantly picked on by friends and family about buying organic, or not allowing the baby to “taste” junk food at his young age. They tell us we are crazy for not allowing him to drink juice, that we need to loosen up. I tell them that what we teach to him now will impact his thoughts and decisions for the rest of his life. It is so important to teach kids how to make good food choices and not just to teach them but also to follow your own advice. Make it fun, cook a meal and have your kids help. Don’t just tell your kids to go play outside, go out with them, swing on the swings, play a game of tag in your backyard and get your neighbors involved.

    1. Hi Heather,
      I find it insane that people feel it necessary to comment on people who insist on living a healthy lifestyle. We are protecting our kids and ourselves by choosing to eat healthy food. I couldn’t agree more…actively play with your kids…..everyone needs to move and what a fun way to spend family time!! Thank you for your comment–I really appreciate your feedback!

  2. Well said Carrie!

    Working at a high-end hotel the last two summers – I was astonished by the amount of parents that would let their children watch movies at the dinner table. We’re talking an average check of $300.00 dinner table…What a waste of money and potentially valuable family time.

    I also could not believe how many children were allowed to run around the hotel like a herd of wild mini versions of Richard Simmons. The parents didn’t even seem to care.

    I feel as though the simple concept of “respect” has been taken out of these kids agendas.

  3. Thanks Carrie – I love this blog. I’m a new “stepmom” to 2 kids and the boy in my new family has not eaten a vegetable or a fruit since he was 3 years old and learned how to say no to his parents & grandparents – who for whatever RIDICULOUS reason let him make the rules when it came to his food choices! He’ll be 8 on April 4th, and to this very day his “favourite” meal is still chicken nuggets and fries, plus he’ll never say no to kraft dinner, chicken soup from a package (ug!!) and fish sticks. His mom takes him for fast food every other weekend, and his paternal grandmother takes him on the opposite weekends. Truly, it makes me want to cry…

    So, starting last month I finally was able to put my foot down and I introduced vegetables into his diet again. It’s been a tough go, and sometimes his dinner lasts about 2 hours – but he’s been eating better and better, so there is hope yet. I wish that his family could see the damage they’ve done by giving in to “easy” solutions all the time, because honestly, down the road, life is far from “easy”! I guess it’s lucky that, given his diet for the past 5 years, he is not an obese child (quite the opposite actually), but even though he is super skinny, he is still one of the most unhealthy children I’ve ever known (no immune system, no endurance, no stamina, etc). Everyone in his family turns a blind eye to his food choices and its just heart breaking.

    So, thank you again for the blog and helping me stay firm in my decision. I keep telling him that he has to get used to my meals, because he’s going to be eating them until he decides to move out! And I just hope that by that point he’s gotten used to something other than “chicken nuggets and fries”.

    1. Shelagh…way to go!!! Stay strong with it!!! In the long run you are doing it for his health. I am so proud of you! He will thank you when he gets older. Thank you for sharing that-I really appreciate it!!!

  4. Hi Shelagh,
    I’m a mom and a stepmom and I think being a stepmom is a harder job in some ways because your opportunity to influence is so much smaller than with your own children. I always felt like anything good I was bringing to my stepdaughters was “undone” as soon as they walked out the door. There were times that they didn’t like my rules, but now that the oldest one is a mother herself, she calls Gran (me) for advise about how to get Rachael to eat vegetables or sit and focus on homework. So be true to yourself and to the stepkids — stay the course! A little tip that worked for me: From the time all the kids were little, I offered 2 or 3 vegetables at each meal (nope, that doesn’t include potatoes) and I allowed them to negotiate one, provided they tried it each and every time it was put before them. I think they grow to appreciate their palate and that you have some respect for their likes and dislikes without compromising nutrition. Caution: my youngest (15) has become a very good negotiator (and interestingly enough, a vegetarian for the past 4 years). Oh, and the only electronics permitted at the dinner table is soft music in the background. No one would dare try to catch a glimpse of the TV or bring a PDA to my table! Carrie’s description of these families out for dinner is tragic — what hope do these kids have? They won’t have a clue! Shame on the restaurant for letting garbage into their establishment. I feel they could have found a diplomatic way to tell them to take that bag of crap and eat somewhere else!

    1. I agree give kids options…healthy options. Open up their palate don’t coat it in grease and sugar. Once you set the rules you follow them.
      Great comment–thanks for your insight BC11…wonderful as always!!

  5. Carrie, I am a mother to two teenage daughters who eat remarkably well thanks to two parents who have always offered healthy food. Making breakfast, lunch and dinner each day is not always the easiest but it’s done. I make sure that my daughters have a tasty healthy lunch because if not it would be too easy for them to pick up some junk food that is offered at the fast food restaurants in the area. Luckily they love their money more than anything and come home with an empty bag. We do not eat out very frequently as it always tastes better at home. I am blessed with the fact that I work from home and have the time to prepare healthy yummy food. As young children what we meant was followed through, strangers often commented on how well behaved our children were. People used to laugh at me when my children did not know what McDonalds was. When they were much older we would share a small fries with three people. Even now as teens they avoid McD’s as they find it difficult to digest and try to pick healthier choices. I hope when I’m not making their food that they will continue on this healthy road.

    1. Hi Maureen,

      Way to go!!! For sure your girls will continue to eat healthy, that’s what they know. I think everyone can agree that when you eat something healthy you feel great and energized. When you eat garbage greasy food-you feel lethargic, sluggish, tired.
      I will take whatever time is necessary in order for my family to eat well and be healthy.
      Thanks Maureen for sharing your story. High five for being proactive and taking such good care of your family!!!

  6. Way to go!! After taking our small kids (age 7 and 5) on a cruise last week, we were HORRIFIED by the behaviour of kids that were running around wild on the boat, in the restaurant, etc. Or the parents that took their children to the buffet for dinner because there was “nothing” in the very nice sit-down restaurant that their kids would eat. Are you kidding me???? As a parent it is YOUR responsibilty to manage and teach your children what is and is not appropriate. Even our 5 year old innocently asked why people said they were good. Because they didn’t scream, jump, yell or run around?? That’s just basic, basic manners.

    1. Way to go for you on parenting your kids!!! Society has become LAZY in every aspect – respect and common sense has been lost and now what we have is an obese population–it has to stop. Thanks for reading the blog and thanks for your comment!!!! Great work on having well behaved kids!!!!

  7. Hey Carrie,
    I watched x weighted not too long ago about a family who has 4 children all of whom are obese and from age 4 to 11 their weight ranged from 98 lbs to the 11 year old weighting 225, the same weight as her father….. They locked the treat cupboard and had nothing but trash to eat and couldn’t understand why……mom had gastric bypass this family is a tragedy. So sad that quick fixes and treats have become the norm. “treats” are overly expensive, full of crap that your body has no idea how to process it, chemical, low energy, doing nothing for you ! My niece and nephew are picky eaters….in my opinion having worked with kids, kids are picky because of their parents opinion of the food and shame on them for putting a negative on a food the child might absolutely love!
    So when I babysit, I get them to help me prepare the foods. We make colorful salads, soups, and main meals, they help and I’ll tell you they eat everything they “hate” she’s 3 and loves my tofu soup full of veggies, rainbow coleslaw and whatever else we’ve made. Now when Sunday comes and it time to go home, and I’ve shared all the great foods she helped me prepare, ate and fully enjoyed, asked for seconds……the response I got from mom was “ewwwwwwwwe you ate thT stuff, and tofu” I was mortified…just because mom doesn’t like it…..
    But opinions, and not giving them choices and not letting them be involved and understand food is fuel is what is making society fat, quick fixes and turn to the treats to shut them up… Ugh I’m so passionate about this cause I worked with kids, I know how they are influenced and like little sponges who absorb everything… I have to stop writing here or else I’ll write a novel, but something has to give with our future growing up like this!
    Ash

    1. That’s a blog post I will have to write as well….the surge of all of these weight loss shows….awful.
      You are 100% right kids are sponges and should be exposed to new things and have choices.
      Everyone is looking for a quick fix, magic diet, special potion or lotion and it doesn’t exist – good old hard work in the form of exercise-works…proven time and time again. Lazy parents will raise lazy kids.
      Thanks for your comment, I agree something needs to happen to get back to basics–good healthy living and respect.

  8. Although the blog and comments all have great points that I mostly agree with the following points I think are missing.

    No one would judge a parent for feeding their baby a bottle of formula instead of breastfeeding although its been proven time and time again the benefits of breastfeeding. The last time I checked the ingredients of formula I could not understand more than half of them. I understand that some mothers can not produce milk, but the last stat I read was that only accounts for 3% , the others I believe have convinced themselves that this is their condition because of the overwhelming task of being on call 24/7 for the first 3 or 4 months. But formula is the socially acceptable way of making parenting easy and McDonald’s isn’t.

    I believe as a parent I need to offer my kids a balanced diet. I don’t ever make an issue of what food they eat and what they don’t eat. If I’m having a bad day then I won’t beat myself up for picking up take out, all things in moderation. I want my kids to learn how eat junk food without over indulging, I want my kids never to feel that I control their food over them. If I’ve learned anything from watching friends with eating disorders or friends that struggle with their weight is it about control not necessarily the food.

    I just hope that when my kids judge how I did as their mother they judge my best days not my worst!

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. Balance and moderation are very important.
      I wanted to stress in the post that it is about teaching your kids…teach/parent them to make the best choices not just with food but with life.
      We all have bad days and no one is perfect.
      I know when I think about my mom….I remember everything that she did to help me.
      Thank you again for your comment!

    2. I agree with Lisa’s point about not feeling guilty about the occasional take-out night and eating junky food as a treat. I’m running around with my 2 boys to extra curriculars at night while my husband works, and I really don’t have the time, NOT MAKING EXCUSES! I think it all comes down to moderation. Life happens, and sometimes we are not eating the most nutritional meals, but if you demonstrate good eating habits to your children at a young age, your kids will catch on.
      My oldest son Johnathan made me laugh one day.
      Now I’ve been with Carrie’s program for almost 2 years, so he knows all about the BootCamp. Johnathan’s friends mother stopped by the house and said, “My daughter was doing the strangest thing today”, she was reading a nutrition label. She went on to ask her daughter why, and she replied, “Johnathan was teaching me the sugar and fat content in the snacks we were eating” Kids do understand and follow your habits, if taught to do so, but don’t stress out if you hit a drive thru once in awhile.
      By the way, I did nurse as well, but I would never judge anyone who doesn’t, especially when being a new mother can be so overwhelming.
      Thanks for your great comments Lisa!
      P.S. I’m a teacher like Lori and I really do appreciate as well when parents send healthy foods and snacks to school. I do not let my grade 5 class drink pop, and any unhealthy snack is commented on by me. Trust me, there is a correlation between sugary foods and bad behavior, I deal with it everyday!!!!!!

  9. I was always a bit of a “food fanatic” where my boys were concerned. I breast fed until they were each a year old (without one supplement until 9 months), made my own baby food, cooked from scratch, and kept junk food totally out of their diets when they were young. Their first taste of real “sugar” came in the form of their first birthday cake (carrot, made from scratch by me). Luckily I was a stay-at-home mom who had the time to do these things, and I realize that, but even then I understood how important those first years of life are for so many reasons – especially for health and brain development.

    Once my sons started school I packed them healthy lunches – which they sometimes complained about (i.e., this one gets pop, this one gets chocolate bars), but when we talked about the behaviour/academics of these same kids, there often seemed to be a correlation there. I was not a perfect parent by any means. My kids occasionally ate at McDonald’s; they had junk food – and when their friends came over I quickly realized that those friends were expecting the Oreo’s and not the fresh vegetables. It is a line that a parent has to walk between wanting your child to fit in and have friends who want to come over, and still instilling good eating habits. I believe all things in moderation – occasional junk food will not kill them if their diet is otherwise healthy, they are active, etc. Keeping these things from them will only make them curious and wanting them more – and I didn’t want them trading that apple for the Oreo cookies at school.

    My sons are now almost 18 and 20. Both are honour roll students; both are healthy, active and have no weight issues. I have never had any issues with them behaviour-wise either – no “teenage rebellion”, etc. I’ve been very lucky, but it has also been very hard work. You have to sacrifice a whole lot in so many areas, but it is a job that is so worth it. It’s not over yet – but at their ages, I think we are well on our way.

    When you really know how parenting and good eating habits pay off is when your children leave home for University, and no longer have you around to ‘take care’ of them. My older son did not put on the “freshman 15” because he didn’t like the comfort food – instead, he stuck with salads, wraps, etc. It is how he wants to eat now. He also goes to the gym daily, plays hockey, soccer, swims, etc.

    1. Mrs Morrison, you have raised two fantastic boys!! I agree with moderation. Rewarding kids with “treats” can get out of hand. Teach and parent them to make good choices -not just with food. Thanks for your comment- you are a testimonial that being involved with your kids pays off!!

  10. I totally agree with that:) You are 100% right, I work with children for 13 years now and I have seen and heard parents make up every single excuse there possibly is… NO TIME, or I have to put up a fight, OR it’s too expensive or Just can’t be bothered. It is AWFUL!!!!!!
    I agree with this 100 percent!!!!!
    Great JOB

  11. I too work in a school and believe me I could go on and on about the lack of respect shown by many children. However, I do believe that the amount of preservatives and crap that is found in most foods today also contributes to the poor behaviours in some children (along with many other issues we are having out there). There are children with allergies (probably unknown to the parents) to the ingredients found in most of these convenience foods, especially red food dye which is found in wonder bread, store bought cookies, bacon to name but a few, but the worse thing for kids with these allergies is McDonalds. It is loaded with red food dye along with who knows what.
    So, in my humble opinion if you take children with weak parenting and combine that with allergies to certain foods we have a real nightmare on our hands!

    1. Great to know Karin…thanks for sharing that with us. Red food dye is awful. We have seen such a spike in disorders with children-I think that we need to be looking so closely at our food! Thanks again for great information!

  12. I agreed with you on the whole issue of kids behaving badly, especially in public. My kids (now 17 and 15) were probably worse at home than in public. But when we went out, they knew better. Even when they were 3 and 5, I could take them with me to get my nails done so long as I brought the coloring books. But as for the obese children thing, I have to say: my kids are both thin, but I can’t take credit for it because we ate out often and I hate cooking. Honestly, I just got lucky. My kids didn’t even start playing sports until junior high. I have a niece, however, who’s always been in sports, swims almost every day, eats healthier than my kids eat, but has always been fat. Her mom has been vigilant, doing doing everything a mom can to curb this problem. I actually think this has caused some psychological things with my niece (she cried at birthday parties when her mom cut her the teeniest piece of cake while the other kids got a regular sized piece). When my niece hit puberty, she did thin out some as she got taller. But it’s clear that she will probably never be thin. All of this to say: eating healthy should be everyone’s goal, but just because someone has a fat kid doesn’t mean they’re lazy any more than having a normal-weight or thin kid means you’re a disciplined parent.

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