Want to know the last time my husband and I didn’t agree on something?
About 20 minutes ago. Seriously, we disagree about a lot of things, but we always work it out. This is part of marriage, right? (sigh)
What do you do when you disagree on how to feed the kids?
My husband and I do not agree on a few things, particularly when it comes to artificial sweeteners. He thinks “it’s better than nothing” and drinks a lot of soda.
In another case, a reader said to me, “My husband loves potato chips and gives them to the kids all the time. When I tell them not to eat the chips, I feel like I’m getting in between my spouse and my children.
I get these questions a lot, so it’s strange that I haven’t written about this before. (Thanks Brenda for the kick in the pants.) Here’s a strategy I recommend: Arm-wrestle!
1) Come to an agreement about how you’re going to feed the kids.
In one family…
- The father was very overweight and didn’t want any limits on how much or what his son could eat.
- The mother, who was afraid the child would become overweight too, wanted very clear limits.
- They found a middle ground by agreeing that there would be times (such as family picnics) when Dad could decide the menu—anything would go. In return, he would support Mom on the menus she planned for everyday.
2) It’s OK to have adult-only eating rules.
Not everyone in the family has to eat the same way.
It’s OK to say, “Dad can snack (or drink soda) whenever he wants to. When you’re older, you can, too. But for now, you can have just one snack (soda) in the afternoon.”
3) What YOU Can Do: Think proportion. There’s a place in your children’s diets for anything.
Candy? Donuts? French fries? Soda? I say, “Bring ’em on.” Just don’t let the junk outside the good stuff. Read It Doesn’t Matter What Your Kids Eat.
Think of this as a learning opportunity for your kids.Your kids aren’t going to live in a world without junk so they might as well start learning how to manage these foods right now.It’s an essential skill.
4) What Your SPOUSE Can Do: Be Honest.
The honest approach is the best approach: “Daddy and I have a different way of eating, but we agree on what we want you to learn about healthy eating.”
Honesty is the best policy because…even people who would rather drink artificial sweeteners, fill up on chips, or eat til they’re sick, know there’s a better way. And that’s what everyone wants for their children.
5) What you BOTH Can Do: Agree not to fight about food in front of the kids.
Nobody wants to turn what the kids eat into a judgment against the other parent.
And a stressful eating environment, with parents fighting over what their children should eat, is even worse for kids than unhealthy foods.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~