Thursday, May 04, 2006

dinnertime drama

i was a single mom for the last 7 years and i pretty much trained blake that at dinner time, he eats one thing and i eat another. i didn't mean to train him into this, but looking back, it's so fucking obvious that this is my "fault." part of it might have started when he was a baby and couldn't eat normal foods anyway, so i ate something different at dinnertime. it's not like i was going to eat gerber peaches or squash- ew! then as he got older, i sometimes wanted to eat things that i knew he wouldn't like, so i wouldn't even bother making enough for him, or even ask him to try it (unless he asked). and other times, i wouldn't be hungry for dinner, so i wouldn't eat at all. blake and i always sat down together, but we very rarely ate the same meal. well, we sat down together when i wasn't eating something that made him want to puke from the smell. that's another thing. blake has such an incredibly sensitive stomach and nose. certain smells gross him out, and he has stomach issues almost nightly. i never cared though. never cared that i had to throw together 2 seperate things for dinner. to me, food, and what blake would or wouldn't eat, has never been a big deal. plus, when you have a kid who literally wouldn't sleep for the first 5 years of his life, you make other things, like dinnertime, as easy as fucking possible. but in doing things this way, i've created a kid who flat out refuses to try anything new and gets so frustrated if he's asked too he's practically in tears.

this brings us to where we are now. living with boyfriend and attempting to have 1 family meal each night in our home without complaints. boyfriend talked to me about his frustration with dinner in our home and it just breaks my heart. i wish that it wasn't a big deal to him that blake doesn't want to try new things. i wish he didn't care. but he does. it seems to be the one thing that really gets him frustrated. and i understand because he's the one who is cooking dinner everynight and he doesn't want to make 2 meals. i get that. but you have 7 years of a kid conditioned to eat foods that he liked at dinnertime, and now you want him to open up and try new things? this, from a kid who eats his hamburgers plain. as in, NOTHING on them (i so blame his dad for that- ha). but it is so hard. because the moment boyfriend starts to get frustrated with blake for his flat out refusal to even lick something new, my natural defenses start to rise. it's in my gut instinct to defend blake. and that's not really fair to bf. it's just hard because this is something that is a big deal to bf, and it's not to me. i feel like if we're going to be upset at blake about something, it needs to be something that really matters. and to me, who gives a fuck about food?! but boyfriend does. and i don't mean to disrespect him in any way. i totally get his perspective and his opinion and i understand his feelings about this- i just wish it was different. because then i find myself hating that dinner has come to this once again. boyfriend asking blake to try something. blake saying no immediately without even giving it a thought. boyfriend getting frustrated. blake getting upset. and me, in the middle. and i think my biggest fear is that dinner will turn into this time that no one wants to be a part of anymore. the last thing i want is for the only time the 3 of us sit down together to eat, to be a negative experience. and i feel like that's where we're headed. like dinner is suddenly going to be the meal that no one wants to deal with. boyfriend will stop making dinner because he feels like he goes out of his way to make something nice, and blake won't eat it. blake won't want to come down for dinner anymore, because he gets in trouble everynight for not trying something. and i won't want to deal with the bullshit of it all. i don't know what to do. is there an easy solution that i'm just not seeing because i'm involved in it? do you make more than one meal for your kid? are we the only ones to who to deal with this kind of stuff? help.

36 comments:

Becky said...

well we make one meal for us and one for hannah. matt has to compromise alot FOR ME because i dont like anything either and he too makes dinner. so he'll make something we BOTH like and hannah something else cuz she's like blake. and well like me. picky and wont try anything. and so i totally get where you're coming from BUT i can see why point feels this way too. i dunno if there is an easy solution except to meet in the middle. i mean we make hannah something seperate btu its not a whole elaborate meal. its easy mac. its spaghettios. its cereal and yogurt so matt isnt' making TWO full meals you know?

Becky said...

i also will add that my mom did us this way too. i was never forced to try anything and we never sat down and ate together and she made us whatever we wanted. SO its rubbed off because matt grew up the same way too. we dont make hannah try anything if she doesn't want to. and i REFUSE to try new things if i dont like the smell or texture. it makes matt mad but he's accepted this about me and hannah.

spidey said...

My parents never made us separate meals when we were little (well, maybe really little, but I don't remember that). We always just ate what my parents ate, and really none of us were picky, so it wasn't a big deal. If we didn't like something, we didn't have to eat it, but usually we would at least eat part of the same meal. Jason on the other hand, was never made to try anything, and he is super picky now. It pisses me off because I can only make a few things that he will eat, so we usually end up eating out. I do make him try things now, though, which he does.

I guess what I want to say is that I totally understand your point, but I am with dot on this one. I plan on making my kids try everything, but I won't force them to eat something they hate. I'll let you know what I actually do in a few years, though. :) Hopefully they take after me and love lots of different foods--especially veggies!

Catherine said...

This is what we do: try it once, and if you don't like it, you don't have to eat it EVER again. Then we make sure we follow through with that. For example, my son hates onions, so I keep them off of his plate. We don't believe in personal catering, so we only make ONE meal, but we try to accomodate the picky eaters by making sure they don't have to eat something that they hate. And as an incentive for trying something new, I might say, "You can have ice cream afterwards if you'll take at least ONE bite."
Good luck, Sweetie!

jennster said...

i should add that we have tried bribes.. we have begged with the "you just have to try it.. if you don't like it, spit it out, but at least try." and blake REFUSES. he will NOT eat something he doesn't want too. and then he's usually in tears and so upset. you can't bargain with him or negotiate. he doesn't play. lol

spidey said...

Wow, Blake is hardcore! I blame his mom! LOL! Seriously, though, I don't know what you can do if he refuses short of holding him down and shoving it down his throat. :(

Piece of Work said...

I was going to suggest having him just try one bite, but reading your comment I see that doesn't really work either. Thing is, you don't want to make dinnertime a battlefield. I just don't know. I read your bf's post--seems like you have 2 days that he cooks what he wants, 2 days for blake and 1 for you. That's not working anymore because he still wants Blake to try things on his days, right? This is really a tough situation and I'm having trouble coming up with any advice. The only thing I'd say is that on the 2 nights that are bfs, you tell blake he HAS to try one bite. If he refuses, don't get upset, just tell him to excuse himself and go elsewhere while the two of you finish. He wont starve to death, you can feed him a big breakfast the next morning--but no snacks that night.
But I don't even know if that would work. Sorry.

Tara said...

Well, coming from me...a child who was an extremely picky eater...this is how my house was run. My mom USUALLY made whatever she wanted. If i didn't like something that was IN it..i was welcome to pick it out, but what was made for dinner is what we ate. Sometimes she'd make something seperate for me, but most often it was the "If you dont like it, dont eat" attitude. Yes, I cried. BAWLED sometimes over what was being made, but i ate it...and life went on, and I got a good dessert afterwards. IMO its up to parents to teach their kids to try things,because if they dont, they will be extremely picky eaters for the rest of their lives.
Its definately not uncommon for a kid to cry because they don't want to try something. I did it, my sister did it, my cousins all did it...and kids i used to take care of did it. But really...I think if you cater to someone...they'll expect it forever. Including when they are moved out of thehouse and married or whatever. But this is just my opinion. Ive never really had a parent that made me whatever i wanted. lol

Kel said...

I agree with piece of work. With Little Man we tell him to try it. If he absolutely refuses to do so then he's excused and told to go to his room. I make it known that he won't get anything else BUT what's served, and that he'll get no snacks and very little to drink the rest of the night.

Usually this does the trick and Little Man will at least take one bite. Sometimes it doesn't, but like Piece of work said he won't starve.

If he plays hardball, then you have to play hardball. Tears are to be expected but you'll have to be strong.

I'll take how to make 1 meal for your famly for 30 alex. ;)

russ said...

peach-flavored gum is da bomb

Becky said...

well i wouldn't say catered to. if i dont like something someone else is making i just wont eat it. i dont expect them to make something else. teri doesn't. no one does. at home its diff though. we just eat what we both like. if blake never tries new things its not THAT huge of a deal. i turned out ok and if im missing out on something good then oh well. my loss, right?

Melissa said...

This is a hard one, and I don't think there is an easy answer. Sorry. I have one picky one and one not picky one. But I only cook (well..cook is a strong word) ok, order one meal. But I started when they were babies. I never gave them the choice. I always make sure to have one thing she'll eat.

I was a picky kid, but more on things touching on my plate. If it touched, I stopped eating and refused to continue eating.

My thought is to make one thing every meal that is just for Blake. The more it gets pushed on him to try things, the more stubborn he'll be, and it will become a big battle. As he gets older, he will try more things. Most kids do..it just may be when he is older. And this is just my opinion, but the fastest way to give a kid food issues, is to push food on them. Good luck.

Jess said...

Good luck on this one also. My son is 6 and doesn't eat anything but chicken nuggets and fries. And he's picky about his nuggets, if they aren't the right shape he won't eat them. We have tried everything from bribes, to punishment to only allowing him to eat what I have cooked, nothing works. I finally gave up after he went for 2 days without eating. Now, I just fix him what he wants and cook a different meal for us.

Wendy Boucher said...

Yikes! I can see the angst in your post. I wish I had the magic answer. Here's my two cents, for what it's worth.

As a little baby, Girlie (now seven) would try anything. Even really gross green beans. As a toddler, I made her separate meals of her favorite foods and I found that the more I did that, the fewer things that she claimed to like and the fewer things that she would even try. To put an end to that, I converted to one meal for all (okay, on the nights that I actually cooked). She put up a really good fight but I stuck to my guns. Eat at dinner or don't, but there won't be snacks before bed. Gradually, the fight left her and although she still feels obligated to tell me when I've made something she hates, she'll try anything these days. Even when we travel to foreign countries. She's even eaten edible flowers off of a thai food plate.

In my easy-to-say-because-I'm-not-there opinion, you aren't really in the middle of anything. Blake needs your assistance to learn to eat well, including a variety of foods. It will be better for his health and benefit him socially too.

Finally, if you've got somebody cooking for you. DO EVERYTHING IN YOUR POWER TO KEEP IT THAT WAY. Color me jealous.

Lisa said...

That's a really tough situation... I have no clue what to do. These days, if we have a family meal, we eat the stuff Seth likes, like burgers (his plain, ours all full of cheese and stuff.) And we'll do a veggie he likes and a veggie we like....

IF we don't do a family meal, I give the child a corndog and I eat something else...

Tara said...

I see what you're saying Becky. But if a parent doesn't tell their kids that all they have to do is try something. Not eat it all, but TRY it...then how do they even know if they like it or not? It actually makes life easier to not be so picky when it comes to eating. As an adult we are able to make our own decisions, and know that they are the right ones for us, but a child sometimes DOES need the guidence of their parents. If they are never taught to try something ..then they will live the rest of their lives not trying things...and most parents dont want their kids to "miss out on things" as you put it.
Its also not fair to the person making the dinner to have to make more than one meal...Its not like home is a restaraunt.

Jenn said...

Shit, I didn't realize you had a post about this too. I blew my load already at bf's site. Now I have to come up with new stuff. Ummmm go read his omments! LOL

but seriously. I'm on BF's side of the fence here. (sorry) I eat everything like him. Mike doesn't. It annoys me. I want Allie to eat like me. But I can start early....so it's easier.

The only idea I had was to attempt to comprimise. Tell Blake that BF wont force him to eat stuff, but that he has to try one new thing every week or every other week or something like that. You can't go one way or another you have to comprimise. And this could be the first big one you make as a family. There will be plenty more.

Kevin Charnas said...

If my parents ever made a big fuss over me not trying something, all that made me want to do was to shove it RIGHT UP MY DAD'S ASS!!! And one time I fantasized about dumping my whole plate of Greek Spaghetti on my Dad's head and screaming "SHUT THE FUCK UP!!" at him, but I loved Greek Spag too much to waste it.
I wish that boyfriend wouldn't take it so personally and get angry, b/c that just infuriates the situation.
Maybe if Blake insists on not eating what's been made for him, he's welcome to make his own dinner (nothing unhealthy as far as sweets, etc)? I know it's going to be tough kiddo. And your heart must just break everytime Blake tears up, but I think that it just may be a couple of times before things begin to change. He's not going to want to cook his own dinner. But try, try to convince boyfriend that getting angry won't help a thing, it never does. Do this all as calmly as humanly possible.

Besides my jokes in regards to my parents, I have very fond memories (and they continue) of dinner being a very sacred time of family interaction. And I'm so thankful for it. It helped to establish my self-worth, I felt like my parent's thought that I had something to say that was worth listening to. I want everyone to have that...

I hope that helps...

Jenn said...

Plus....and I'm not sure what blake likes to eat, but if he's like some of my cousins and only likes processed junkie foods, it's not necessarily good for him.

Kym said...

When I was growing up, we only had one meal each made for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. "We aren't running a restaurant" my parents would tell us. They always made us try things. If we completely hated it, they wouldn't force it, but there was never another option, and no snacks or desert if we refused our meal.

I agree with Spidey. You should not have to make a seperate meal for Blake. That isn't fair to you or dot, but as long as he knows he can get his way, nothing will change. :(

Beth said...

Dh gets really frustrated at supper too. Claire eats almost anything, but prefers hands, and to have fun. I always have to tell him to calm down. I don't see the big deal either. Also, I am the picky one, I HATE fish, so I'll make it for Claire and Patrick, but I'll make something else for me.
Maybe, since Blake is old enough, have him come up with some meal ideas that he thinks he will like, then BF can try to make something along those lines?

penguininthesun said...

I'm sorry about the dilemma you guys have found yourselves in, Jenns! I guess it just takes a little compromise. Maybe it would help to introduce new and different foods to Blake slowly and subtly. I know boyfriend's probably not into making two different meals, but if Blake could have something he's used to, then just one item that's similar to what the two of you are eating, he might not feel threatened.

Or even the presentation of the food could make a difference. Smiley faces work most of the time. That reminds me of when I was a kid (a very picky one)... I was convinced that I hated eggs because they looked icky. Then, in first grade we read Green Eggs and Ham and my teacher made everyone GREEN eggs and ham... she used food coloring and because they were green, I tried them and found out they actually weren't icky! Then again... most kids aren't as insane as me.

Oh and, I know this isn't food-related, but I have this one student who frustrated me sooo much because she just wasn't trying AT all. Then one day her friend came into the class and since she was there, my student played better than ever. I was amazed. So, maybe inviting a friend of his over to dinner might encourage him to try different things too (?)

Gee, sorry... this is such a super duper long comment! But I do sincerely hope you guys don't stress too much over this subject cause it really 'aint no thang but a chicken wing, you know? :)

Good luck!

mothergoosemouse said...

Right now we give the girls something different, but I am learning the same lesson. You should have heard the epic battle waged between Kyle and Tacy over a single kernel of corn. That's why I give CJ a little of what we're eating - just to expose her to more foods that Tacy was.

But Tacy was never an adventurous eater. The child didn't even like mac-n-cheese for a long time.

Our general rule is that dinner begins with veggies. After that, it's pretty much a free-for-all, as long as it's not junk. By that I mean that Tacy can have a sandwich or a hot dog or fruit or oatmeal or whatever.

Alison said...

I didn't read all of the comments (Miss Popular) so I don't know if someone already said this. I prepare one meal for all of us but the kids don't always finish their dinner because they don't always like what we're eating. They have to try everything on their plate (and I don't make anything too nasty) AND I always make sure there is something that the kids REALLY like. So, before they can have second helpings of that, they must eat a couple bites of everything. It works pretty well, but dinnertime is by far the most stressful meal at our house too. It is for most people, and that's why there are tons of books written on the subject. And, even though they say it's a no-no, we bribe with dessert and the kids don't get any unless they eat their dinner. Which is fine with me, because kids don't need cookies and ice cream every night of the week. (Only mommy does.)

Stephanie A. said...

What if you designated one or two nights per week as "blake meals" so that he was sure to get a favorite. Then, on the other nights, maybe have one side that he would like so that he does have something comfortable to eat. Then, it is up to him if he eats the rest or not. I'd say your bf probably wouldn't want to cater to blake every night, but if blake knew he had two nights of his own, maybe the other nights would be somewhat bearable. That's just a thought.

My brother was super picky and only ate catsup sandwiches for a year straight. My mom tried everything and evenutally gave up. Sometimes there's really not much you can do.

Stephanie A. said...

OK, just read that he does have two nights. Duh- get all the info first, Stephanie. Anyway, I'd still see if you could add a simple side (like applesauce or something) on the rest of the nights so that he doesn't feel completely excluded.

Oh, and one final thing- I'd hesitate to totally change the rules on blake now by forcing him to eat. Nobody wants him to resent bf for coming along and changing what blake thought was a perfectly good plan.

Nikki said...

Way to many comments to read, so I hope I'm not repeating what someone has already said.

Only rarely do I fix my daughter a seperate dinner. I will not do it unless she has tried what we are having at least two times. I make her try it twice because the initial bite is usually just to get me off her back. If she refuses to try what we are having, then she's just hungry. She will eat if she's hungry enough, and there is always breakfast the next morning, then lunch, but no snack in the afternoon or evenings. I will not reinforce her refusal to try things and eat dinner by giving her crackers or something to fill up on. Then she would think she never has to try anything or eat dinner and she'll get what she wants anyway.

I do try to accomodate in the things she doesn't like. When I make salad, I don't put everything in one big bowl, I will put the lettuce and everything everyone likes in the big bowl, and the other stuff in little bowls so we can all pick and choose what we want.

I have to hand it to the girl. She gets pretty firm sometimes, but to me, it's my job to be firmer. She can't think she runs the house or makes the menus

Staci said...

This is a hard one for me, but I'm on BF's side for this one.

I don't think it all stems from just not liking the food, but this resistance could also go into other things as well...where he will expect others to offer alternatives if he doesn't like what's in front of him. For example...what if he wanted to play second base and someone else was already assigned there...would he refuse to play if he didn't get to play second? Just a thought...maybe he's not like that, but maybe down the road...

My parents were the same way as Kym's...they always said "It's not a buffet...either you eat what's here or you don't eat". I have somewhat compromised now that I have kids and they have 1 alternative every night, and that's PB&J. Either you eat what we make or a PB&J, I won't make anything else. I really think it's more about the battle of wills than him really not liking what's on the plate...just my 2 cents.

Andrew said...

htf do you get 28 comments?!
anyhoo, you should call cesar milan. He does amazing things.

Angry Dad said...

Dudette, sometimes you just gotta chill sista! We try to make the same meal for all of us, and most nights for at least one kid, it goes uneaten. You can't stress it. Sometimes they eat, sometimes they don't. Our six year old Ethan has all the same eating habits it sounds like Blake has, and he's healthy and happy. BF has to chill also, its a kid thing!

CAT said...

This is just MO........I hope that Chris blames you for this rather than Blake, because technically it is you that has trained Blake to have the eating patterns that he has. Sit down with Blake and Chris---Tell Blake that he HAS TO eat 4 meals a week with you both THE SAME THINGS. But---let him also HELP pick out some of the things for the meal (one night of hamburgers, bbq chicken or something that all 3 of you like). let him HELP make the meal. This might encourage him more to eat a variety of things-not alot at once, but HELP out the situation. That way he is helping, he is choosing items, and maybe it will break down some of the frustrations and leave you out of the "middle".

Anonymous said...

Okay so my best mom advice because I went through this with my son who is almost six. Don't make a big deal out of it. (yeah, easier said than done) I found out that the more I tried to MAKE my son eat the food we were eating the more he hated me for it. He'd actually gag on stuff just to prove a point. Then he realized that he LOOOOOVEs Ranch so we started putting ranch as a side with EVERYTHING, and yes, believe it or not he now loves salmon! He used to only eat it if it was drenched in ranch which was fine with us becuase we figured hey, he was still eating it right!!! He's getting better now. I think the only thing he absolutely won't eat, no matter how much ranch is on it is potatoe's but I dont' care!!! With my daughter I knew right away I was doing things differently so she has been eating whatever we eat from the get go. YAY! So.. that's all I have to say. It's a tough battle! some people say he'll eat if he's hungry enough and believe it or not it is true but what mom wants to send their kid to bed hungry!!! GOOOD LUCK!

Vi said...

I totally agree with Kel...if Blake is going to play hardball you have to do it too!

But I think it's only fair that every meal at least include something he likes, ya know? And then just insist on one bite of anything else...and if he doesn't eat it, that's fine but nothing else for the night. I've had to do this with Ry and it seems to be working. I do take into consideration that she doesn't like spicy or onions, so normally I don't make anything spicy. But I definitely do not cater to her...and dessert is a HUGE motivator to her! lol I make sure I always have dessert choices that she loves so after she realizes her tears aren't going to work on me and she takes the bite (or 3), she gets to pick some yummy dessert!

I think it's really nice that dot wants dinnertime to be such a family event. Has he sat down privately with Blake and discussed his feelings?

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