You Are What You Eat: Negotiating Your Children’s Diet with Your coParent
As a parent, it’s hard enough to ensure your children are eating correctly, but as a coParent, it can feel nearly impossible. I long for the nights when I cook dinner and don’t hear the words “This isn’t what my dad cooks for me, he never makes me eat this!” I cringe at those words and just wish I could get their father to be on the same page when it comes to feeding our kids a healthy diet.
To avoid hearing those words I dreaded so much, I looked at my kids and asked… “So, what does your dad feed you that you like?” They both giggled and answered… “NOT THIS!” I couldn’t help but giggle inside at their answer while at the same time seeing red for their father. Their answer may not be the answer I was looking for, but it occurred to me that feeding their growing personalities is just as important as it is feeding their bodies. So, I chuckled and tickled their bellies to let them know I wasn’t upset with their answers.
After a few days of noticing my kids would come home with partially eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches left over in their lunch boxes, I decided to have another talk with their dad. Instead of accusing him or being angry, I simply asked what he feeds them. To my surprise, he said, “salad, apples, carrots, spaghetti, and pizza” I was shocked! They don’t always eat pizza and candy like I assumed. He said he stopped sending them with sandwiches because they kept throwing them away. “Well, more veggies and fruit it is then!”, I said. We both laughed about it, feeling that strange strain of trying to work together for the sake of our kids.
Asking their father what he fed them was difficult. In fact, asking him anything is difficult because we don’t agree on many things. But after bringing up what the kids like to eat with my ex, it was easier to discuss an overall a plan of how best to feed them. This enables him a voice when the children are with me and vice versa. That way we both feel supported by one another even when the kids are with the other parent. My ex and I have finally found common ground, the same ground that our kids often stand on.
I will never be able to truly know what my kids are eating when they are not with me. But, doing what I can to ensure their health and happiness when they are with me is my goal. Starting with the idea of “How can I best help the children,” is always the best place to start. The rest is patience and understanding, and maybe some chocolate.