When grandparents are regular sitters, or if your kids are cared for in part by in-laws, they’re eating a lot of meals and snacks on their watch—which could influence not only your child’s food and nutrient intake, but also their day-to-day habits. So what if everyone doesn’t see eye-to-eye on what is and isn’t OK for kids to eat?
As with everything in parenting, you have to do what seems best for your family and handle it in a way that works for you. Here’s some advice we offered one reader.
Q: My mother is coming to visit over the holidays. Although I’m excited to see her, she gives my kids junk food and lets them eat things I don’t approve of. How can I address this without creating a battleground?
A: The best way to prevent a potential confrontation is to be proactive. Make it your goal to be clear and direct but non-confrontational. One way might be to send your mom a letter before her arrival, so she has time to sit with what you have to say. Here’s an example:
I love you, and I know that you love your grandchildren. Before you arrive for your visit, I want to talk to you about something that’s really important to me.
I spend a lot of time, effort and money buying and preparing whole foods for my family. If you’re interested, I can tell you more about what I’ve been learning and why I’ve been changing our nutrition.
I know it’s different from what everyone around us is eating, but I feel strongly as a mother that it’s important for us to take another path, back to the kind of nutrition the world had before fast and processed foods. I feel firmly that for my children’s health and their future, it’s critical we avoid sugar and other processed foods, as well as dairy and meat products. Our diet isn’t “perfect,” but I believe that what we do 95% of the time will determine whether we are healthy and fit or sick and miserable. We have seen many improvements in our health because of these changes, and I don’t want to go backward.
I know that for you, candy and treats are a way to show love. Again, I so appreciate you and your love for my babies! For me, good nutrition is a way to show love. I’m worried that these two viewpoints have the potential to come into conflict while you are here.
I feel that candy is not an appropriate reward for children, and it creates a habit—that may carry into adulthood—that high-calorie foods are “earned” by good work or good behavior.
It’s very important to me that when you visit, you not use the desire to spoil my children as a reason to feed them foods I feel jeopardize their health. Maybe you could spoil them in other ways, like reading to them, playing with them or making them a healthy treat.
I would love to provide you with a healthy cookie recipe and buy the ingredients. I will have wholesome treats in the fridge and freezer so you don’t have to wonder what to give them.
I would like there not to be any strain between us. I know that the way we view diet and nutrition is different, but I am asking for your support while you are here with something that’s very important to me.
We are all very excited to see you! Thank you for honoring this request.
Please remember that your health is your own responsibility. Nothing here is to be construed as medical advice. This information is not meant to replace the guidance offered by your health practitioner.