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  1. #1
    Kestrel is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default making good choices/ignore Grandma!

    I really, really need some advice.

    In-laws are visiting. She is hugely overwieght, diabetic, hypertensive, bad back/knees. Father-in-law is not much better - has had four heart attacks, has almost no teeth left, ect.. And they make _NO_ effort to eat well.

    This is a terrible example for my child (just turned four). DS eats well, but is questioning why we eat this way, when he's seeing his grandparents eat such crap. For example; Easter Sunday: We fixed a nice breakfast at our house, omelettes and fresh fruit.. they choose not to come to our house for breakfast, so they could stay home and have TWO cinnabons EACH instead. We all went our for lunch, where FIL had double teriyaki bacon burger and fries, MIL had deep-fried chicken strips and fries, with a jumbo milkshake each. For dinner, I made a ham, baked potatoes, fresh fruit, steamed veggies, and rolls. They went through an entire 4oz salt shaker between them, and two cubes of butter (half a pound of butter!). Plus, and entire 2liter of soda, EACH. (They brought the soda with them, we don't buy it. My DH says 2 liters each per day is normal.) Then, the chocolate cake I made for a treat - I pre-cut it to serve, and they took two and three pieces EACH, plus ice cream.

    I try my best to stay out of their buisness... but I will not allow my family to eat this way. DS now wants soda/milkshake/fries with every meal - or at least, he thinks he does. He's _never_ had soda before, so I can only think it's their example.

    Even my DH, who is struggling with wieght/diet issues, is frustrated with them. However, they just bought a vacation house near to us, and we will be seeing them much, much more than before.

    Is there anything I can do to lessen the effect on DS?

  2. #2
    mmsmom is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Sounds like a tough situation. I would keep doing what you are doing by only having healthy options at your house. I would also try to find times to see them that do not involve meals. I realize that can be tough but I don't think you can change them so avoiding the conflict may be the best option. You could also suggest they come to your house anytime you do need to have a meal with them so you can control what you serve... put out a respectful amount of butter and if they go through that tell them you are out.

  3. #3
    hillview's Avatar
    hillview is offline Blue Diamond level (20,000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    New England


    IME kids can learn. My dad is not quite that bad but eats a lot of crap including a lot of fast food and donughts. They live downstairs from us so we see them a LOT and eat often with them. My mom puts a lot of butter and salt on food. So here is where we are,
    - my parents know our food choices and why, they honor/respect that to a degree (still cook with too much butter and salt)
    - I avoid meal times on a frequent basis with them (but once every 2 weeks it does happen)
    - my kids are well versed on what is healthy and what is not and that people make different choices DSs will point blank tell my parents that that snickers bar is a bad choice etc
    - my dad is overweight (he gained 10 lbs last year alone) and DSs will tell him and us that he is fat or has a big tummy (we don't encourage this)

    IME kids will do what their parents say

    So -- it is possible to make it work and still have kids who make good choices.
    DS #1 Summer 05
    DS #2 Summer 07

  4. #4
    Simon is offline Ruby level (4000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Jan 2011


    I try to be up front with our kids when it comes to obvious differences.
    My standard lines are:
    Our family makes different choices.
    Do you enjoy X, do you think that you could do X if Y happened?
    (I am guessing their physical health limits their abilities to do things). I try not be directly personal but will say things like, "could you eat very easily if you had no teeth, could you run and play if you had no energy from healthy food, etc."

    You cannot control them and their habits. But you can limit your child's exposure to them at meal times. Host between meal gatherings. It sound like they'd be happy to go home and eat by themselves anyway.
    Ds1 (2006). Ds2 (2010). Ds3 (2012).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    My mother smokes. I HATE for DS to know about her smoking. Even though she never does it in front of him, he knows about it. She knows it's terrible, too, and she goes out of her way to tell DS how awful smoking is. She talks about how dirty and unhealthy it is and how she wishes she could stop. She talks about how he must never start, because then he will smell bad and get a cough like her-- things like that. Although it's definitely a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do situation and not ideal, at least she tries to mitigate her bad influence. Is there any chance your in laws might be willing to do something similar?

    Your DH would have to be the one to bring it up, but he could say how hard they are trying to protect your son from having to struggle with weight problems and health problems connected to diet, and, because your DS loves them so much, he wants to do everything they do. He could mention your DS asking for soda when he's never had it before. Your DH could enlist their help in teaching your DS about developing poor eating habits, how hard it is to change them once you start, and how lucky he is to eat foods that keep him healthy and strong. Your DH could ask them to praise your DS when they see him making good food choices. I think if they are approached in a spirit of love and respect and enlisted in the cause of helping their grandson make good choices, they will be eager to help. It's not as good as DS not being exposed to their habits, but it's better than nothing, and it makes your in laws feel like teachers rather than bad examples, which is important for their relationship with their grandchild.

  6. #6
    wellyes's Avatar
    wellyes is offline Blue Diamond level (20,000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Dec 2007


    I was completely "just roll with it, keep calm and carry on, it's just a visit" until the part about them buying a vacation home. That is rough.

    I think the "avoid meals together" suggestion is really good. Especially if they're EACH going to bring their own personal 2 liter bottle of soda for every meal. That is amazing.

    Everything you said sounds like they have terrible horrible very bad eating habits, but, they don't necessarily bug you about how you feed your child, or push the crap on him too. Just seeing their example is bad, but it'd be much worse if they were pushing their diet on him, criticizing your food rules in front of him. If they can respect that boundary, I think you can make it work with classic standbys like "respect their rules for their house, but in our house, we [eat something green every meal, do not drink soda, eat small portions, have variety when we eat, whatever]". And always add that it is so that you will feel good, have energy and grow up to be strong.
    DD - 8
    DS - 5

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    I'm sorry. That stinks. I'm upfront with my kids about what kind of food is healthy, and how only have small amount of unhealthy foods at a time, or only for special treats. (You can have French fries only sometimes, and if you have ice cream, you only need a little bit.). FIL puts salt and lots of butter on everything. Once he put butter AND cheese on a slice of plain bread and ate it. DD then asked if she could eat bread like that, and I said (in front of FIL), "I'm sorry DD, it isn't healthy to have both butter and cheese on bread, you have have a little butter or a slice of cheese, but not both."

    At 4, your DS should be old enough to understand that certain types of food are healthy for our bodies and certain types are not. I'm not sure if he's in preschool or not, but both of my kids learned some basic nutrition at school, and it says helped reinforce my ideas about nutrition. Just be upfront with him, and I'm sure he will say some stuff in front of the ILs that they need to hear.
    DD (3/06)
    DS1 (7/09)
    DS2 (8/13)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    NY, US.


    I think that it's definitely time to start talking about how every family makes different choices about food - it won't be long until your DS is headed off to school and making choices that may be different from his classmates in the school lunchroom. Even if everyone brings their lunch, it's really impressive to see the range of what people pack their kids for lunches! Talk up the positive effects of the choices you make, talk in generic terms about why you don't make some of the less healthy choices.

    Will he repeat this stuff to his grandparents? Probably. But if he says "did you know, grandpa, that soda can give you cavities?" that's different than "grandpa, mom says you have no teeth left because you drink soda." One is an unemotional fact, the other is hurtful. Just discuss why you do what you do without being judgmental of people who make other choices.

    To some degree, I've also had to let go a bit. We have pretty strict rules for the food we buy and prepare in our own house, but we can't (and don't) expect the rest of our families to abide by them in their houses. I'm not saying I would let my child drink a 2-liter of soda just because that's the drink of choice in someone else's house - the girls know their choices for beverages (depending on availability) are water, milk and occasionally juice - but I'm also not going to refuse to let them eat the main course because it has too much salt or butter in it.

    I honestly do think that if you talk up why you make the choices you make, your DS will follow along (at least for now!)

    Good luck!
    Mommy to:
    Carolyn, 10/04
    Anna, 7/08
    Matthew, 8/13

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