I am getting super tired of hearing about how bad “today’s kids” are. They’re spoiled, they’re too techy, they’re rude, they don’t play outside… Who do you think is behind all of this, for starters? I don’t agree with any of these statements (save for the not playing outside enough one), but if they were true, would they not be from parents and other caregivers spoiling, buying the tech products, not modeling good manners, etc.?
Adults seem to forget that children are people, too—people with their own personalities, goals, likes, and dislikes. Instead, they see them as controllable objects to maintain, like pets. “Here, eat this dog food,” one might say to his pet, offering the same kibble at each meal.
The whole idea of forcing children to eat food they don’t like just sickens me. Maybe it’s because I can empathize; I certainly don’t eat anything I don’t like. Do you? When I was little, I was forced to eat chicken and dumplings at daycare and nearly vomited. Ever since, I cannot eat them, even though my husband loves them and would like to make them for dinner.
It’s not fair to ask kids to eat things they don’t like and then eat what you like—or don’t eat what you don’t like—in front of them. I saw this post going around Facebook the other day and got so irritated by people commenting things like, “Today’s kids are so spoiled! I would never make something special for my kid to eat.” No, but maybe you could use your brain and plan a meal they’ll eat in the first place—how about that?
I’ll tell you who is spoiled—the kids who are baby boomers today, and perhaps a generation or two after. They had far less homework than today’s kids. They had a parent at home who cooked, cleaned up after them, woke them up for school, and made sure they were ready for the day when today’s kids have to get up on their own, grab pizza rolls after school, and settle down with two hours of homework for nothing. Those kids played outside all of the time, ran around the neighborhood in freedom, and watched Saturday morning cartoons while today’s kids are watched like hawks out of fear or mistrust, cram in a week’s worth of activities in one Saturday since the rest of the week both parents are working (out of necessity, quite often) and remain inside often not because they prefer to, but because parents plop them in front of the television as soon as they can sit to keep them quiet. What else do you expect to happen from that?
If my child has a say in meal preparation—and she does; we decide things as a family—that is an example of our mutual respect. It also helps foster compromising skills, nutritional learning, meal planning skills, and especially peace in the home. Why fight over food because you, the “adult,” feel the need to be right and respected when it’s so easy to just respect everyone in the house?