There are a few really touchy topics in parenting…. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping and SUGAR.
What is it about sugar that makes us so crazy? In most situations, we scarcely notice or care what parenting choices our friends make. But if they even think about giving our child chocolate milk, we might just blow a gasket. I have literally seen fights break out in Starbucks because one parent accidentally gave child chocolate milk, or even worse, a bite of a cookie.
We all have our own sugar issues. We fear that if they fill up on candy, cookies or ice cream they won’t eat at meal time. We worry about cavities, increased hyper activity and empty calories. Most of all, I think we worry that if we are trying to feed them a healthy, balanced diet and limit their sugar then we’d like to ration that limited supply for ourselves to use a special treat, a reward or even a bribe depending on how the day is going. If someone else gives it to them without our knowledge or permission earlier in the day, we won’t be able to pull that tool out of our bag of tricks when we really need it.
So, in some ways, sugar issues are really control issues, which would explain why we care what other people give their kids. Have you ever been on a playdate where the other mom broke out the cookies and potato chips as her snack and suddenly your carrots, snap peas and apple slices seemed a lot less appealing? Your kids probably wanted the yummier snack and it can be really hard to redirect them back to fruits and vegetables when someone else is eating cookies and potato chips.
This is really our issue – we want our kids to eat their fruits and vegetables but it can be really hard to enforce that when their friends are eating crap. So most of us, present company included, silently fume at the other parent because they have perhaps unintentionally or inadvertently made our job a little harder. But instead of sharing our frustration, many of us don’t want to make a big deal of our sugar intolerance, so we silently stew about the issue.
My clever friend Cher tries to avoid sugar scrutiny by making it about her child and filling snacks in general, not the junk food aspect which implies judgement. She’ll say something like “We are so grateful for how generous you are. You are always so thoughtful to share your snacks with our kids. What I find with (insert your child’s name) is he if he eats something more filling at this time, he’s not eating later. If it’s okay with you, I’d prefer that he eat the snacks we brought.”
Cher pointed out that we really just need to share our opinion in ways that can be received by other person. If people are offended or put off by what we say, they shut down. To insure that you are heard, try to get your message across in a way that is not judgmental or offensive. Focusing on your own needs or the needs of your child is an easy way to achieve that.
I can always use help with sticky sugar situations. Please feel free to share your sugar horror stories or advice!