Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thursday Morning Rant

You want to know what I hate? I hate Pediasure!

Have you ever seen their commercials, the ones that ask, "Are you worried that your children aren't getting proper nutrition?" Every time I saw those ads (past tense, I'm so beyond watching commercials these days) I wanted to scream at the TV, "THEN YOU SHOULD FEED THEM BETTER!"

I have a personal pet peeve (a bunch of them, really, but just this one for today's purposes), I absolutely despise it when parents try to disguise their own shortcomings by pointing to their children's behavior. If I had a dollar (inflation) for everytime I heard a parent try and explain that their child is simply a picky eater and won't touch this and that I would not have to worry about money all that much. The reality of the situation is that it's worth more to these parents to make compromises with their childrens' diet than to put in the work that it takes to teach their children to eat right.

Here is the truth as I see it: every single child is a picky eater. If they could control what they ate on a daily basis, scurvy would set in within a month. Neophobia (literally, fear of the new) is a naturally occurring stage in a child's development. It serves to make newly mobile kids adverse to actually consuming all the new things they come in contact with (and inevitably put in their mouths).

So, all parents are facing an uphill battle when it comes to getting their offspring to eat their veggies, it's not just the parents of the "picky" eaters. But, you will absolutely never hear a mother at a coffee clutch say, "Yes, I know that little Jenny probably shouldn't eat a bagel three meals a day, every day. It's just not worth it to me to work on her diet. I'd rather spend this time with her when she's cute and it's so easy to make her happy by giving in to her every desire. I'm not going to think about how she'll be 200 lbs. at 15 and a likely candidate for Type II Diabetes."

Pediasure does serve a very good purpose for children with specific dietary issues, but parental laziness is not a specific dietary issue.

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Blogger Rebecca said...

I agree that every child is picky (well, most are), and I also agree that parents should take the time and get them to eat better. On the other hand, having lived with a TRULY picky eater, I know how hard that can actually be. I'm the oldest of six, and my second-to-youngest brother was THE PICKIEST eater EVER. My mom had a strict "everyone eats the dinner I make" policy, and that ALWAYS included plenty of vegetables. Most nights I, as the oh-so-responsible oldest girl, spent at least an hour getting my brother to eat his dinner. And STILL he became anemic by age 5. The kid was incredible - he wouldn't even eat peanut butter or pizza. Lucky for him my mom was so strict about dinner, otherwise I can't imagine how he would have turned out (at 17 he's still picky, but not anywhere NEAR how he was as a child). Anyway, I don't mean this as a nasty comment or anything - I really do agree that it's totally the parents' responsibility to make sure their kids are eating well. I really enjoy your blog!

10:54 AM  
Blogger Nanny in New York said...

After I published the post I knew that I was leaving myself open to criticism by being so black and white. I know that there are exceptions to every rule, and some parents have more challenges than others. I just get so turned off by those ads that cater to the part in all of us that is the most slothful and inclined to want everything to be as easy as flipping a switch.

I'm all for instant gratification in as many places as I can find it--but a child's diet is one place where I think this whole country has indulged too much. There isn't an easy way out to getting your kids to eat well. Some parents have it easier than others, it's true, but I think it's worth it for all parents to do as your mother did.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you for standing your ground. For what it's worth, I agree with you. Having raised two sons and now helping with a grandson I can simply say that it takes work and time to do the right thing by your children or those in your care. It's easier to do nothing but if you want to be a good parent and raise healthy children then be prepared to do what it takes. Doing your "homework" helps! :)

12:58 PM  
Blogger pinknest said...

btw, the bear on that can is totally neurotically insane!!

4:41 PM  
Blogger Alice said...

Probably off topic, but, is it just me that finds the bear on the tin a little, well, downright freaky?

Just curious...

4:11 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Agreed - my mom was VERY good about getting us all to eat healthy meals, even when it REALLY wasn't easy. I've been a nanny for kids whose parents don't even bother to BUY vegetables, and I just felt bad every time I made them fish sticks, chicken nuggets, or let them eat fruit snacks (which was every day), but it's all they had. It's a parent's responsibility, even if the kid is the pickiest eater alive.

I especially hate the Pediasure commercial with the cute pigtailed girl in the grocery store ("I don't like chicken. I don't like broccoli. I don't like waffles." Then silence and a smile as her mother puts Pediasure in the cart). Classic.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

When my friends and I with kids have our mom talks, we've discussed how the fear of being too controlling with feeding our kids comes from all the talk about how eating disorders are created in kids.
It's been said that overcontrolling parents, where food is concerned especially, create eating disorders. Mom's encourage kids to eat certain foods, but are afraid to push the child to not eat as they're body is telling them, not because they're lazy or unwilling to put in the work. They're willing, believe me, but they've been scared by studies suggesting parents are the reason so many kids are fat, so many kids have eating disorders, etc.
When you're a parent, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.
It's hard on parents because everyone seems to judge your actions or intentions, and then blame you when it doesn't go right. If the child won't eat and then becomes malnourished, CPS is called. If you force feed the child, CPS is called. If you sit the child at the table for hours trying to push them to eat something they don't want to, you create an eating disorder that could kill your child. Take your pick, mom,and then we'll beat you when you're down.
We've actually seen this with the kids in our group that are overweight. Their mom's insist they make them eat whatever they prepare and if they don't they go hungry. Those kids are the fattest. It's obviously not a controlled study, but in our microcosm it seems to be true.

By the way, the can of pediasure that you pictured for you post is actually by prescription only and is for special needs kids on a feeding tube. Those children can't eat any other way than Pediasure. Certainly you're not advocating that parents are misusing pediasure in this situation as well.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Nanny in New York said...

I agree, Trish, being too controlling in any aspect of your childrens' lives is not a good idea. If you foster in your children an unhealthy attitude with regard to food you probably do run the risk of permenantly affecting their eating patterns. I also understand that parenting is something that leaves one open to criticism from every camp, and it is not uncommon for a parent to feel as you do, damned if you do and damned if you don't.

However, I was not talking about being controlling at the dinner table. I was talking about being consistant, strong, and playing the part of the parent which is often unpleasant. There is absolutely no proof to support the argument that an eating disorders can stem from a parent offering up a variety of nutritious food for their children and not compromising about what is eaten. Eating disorders are in fact often caused by unhealthy attitudes toward food, and those unhealthy attitudes include the idea that it is ok to not eat well and seek "proper nutrition" through meal replacement drinks.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Pragmatic Chaos said...

I absolutely agree. It's one of my pet peeves too. And you portrayed it nicely without being too much of a smart-ass, which is what I would have done. I love your blog! Great job.

11:25 PM  

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