So the French are the Cat’s Pajamas when it comes to parenting these days. Not only do they have the rest of us trumped when it comes to general parenting, their kids also eat better.
I’m an American living in Rio de Janeiro. That is synonymous with major snack overload.
Every single day I am faced with a different Mom or nanny complaining that their child (or the one they care for) does not eat well! Usually they are simultaneously handing out cookies or crackers while complaining. Big picture, the caretaker is complaining that a child does not want to eat around noon when they are handing out snacks at 1030am. I wonder what the problem is here.
It doesn’t stop there. I hear the same complaint during school pick up at 530pm, while I watch the kids eat pão de queijo, biscoito globos, and other little goodies. I wonder why that little someone doesn’t have an appetite at 7 or 8pm. I don’t know about you but finishing off a bag of anything around that time totally ruins my dinner.
My Mother-in-law is just as guilty of the Brazilian snack trend. She is constantly trying to feed my children when we are at her place, all hours of the day. If they refuse food she fills them up with juices. She has a need to feed my children.
That is the thing, Cariocas love to feed children. They have some deep seeded trauma when it comes to children and eating. The thing that they don’t get is that snacking isn’t actually feeding them. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is.
I can’t say much as an American. We own snacking. Fortunately I came from a snack free home. I got to snack on a limited basis depending on the situation. On a normal day there was no crap between meals. If I managed to get a hold of something, and my Mother found out, I had to finish off whatever meal I may have ruined solely on principal. We were taught to eat. Of course we had plenty of wonderful homemade cookies to eat in celebration afterward.
Anyway, Karen made one point that really hit me:
“Here’s the French view: there is a difference between feeling hungry and being hungry. No one wants a child to BE hungry. But the French think it’s OK to FEEL hungry. What does that mean? It means being comfortable if your stomach is empty, and being able to wait until your next mealtime–even if you do feel hungry.”
Regardless of my Mother’s efforts, I went into the adult world in the US and snacked my heart out. Because of my build, I never had to diet and the snacking didn’t hurt my figure. That being said, I had horrible eating habits. If I remember correctly, weeks would go by without me consuming a fruit or vegetable. Moving to Brazil fixed that. Being around Mr Rant’s family and their adult eating habits nipped my snacking in the bud.
That makes me wonder, why is it different with the kids here? The only thing I can think of is that snacking keeps the kids happy. Cariocas are not true disciplinarians. They do not like dealing with an unhappy child, ok none of us do but some of us manage to take it in stride.
I have had more than one argument after telling my boys they could not have a cookie at the park. It would ruin their appetite for lunch. What does the Brazilian parent do every single freaking time? They say “oh come on, one cookie won’t hurt. Just let him have it, he is upset.”
I’ll let you guess who I actually end up arguing with in that situation.
The point is, if I parented like that my house would be a dictatorship with an extremely young and irrational leader. I don’t think you should argue or control everything, but I think that food is an important battle… one that I haven’t mastered as of yet.
It makes me wonder, should we adopt the French rule of absolutely no snacking? It is the logical right thing. It is healthier. On the other hand, I love a good snack. I have no problem offering them in reason.
Are we really screwing them over by bending the rules over food?
Where do you stand?
In case you were wondering, I do have a Facebook page. I know and you are welcome: https://www.facebook.com/Rachelsrantings