We did everything right. And we’ve always had a problem eater.
We fed Henry vegetables and he spit them out.
We hid the vegetables in the fruit and he spit them out.
We introduced foods exactly when we were told.
We made fun patterns on his plate.
We gave options, but not so many as to overwhelm.
We let him see a wide variety on our own plates.
No matter what we did, the list of what Henry would eat dwindled instead of grew.
I thought if I listened to my mother, read the books, and followed the pediatrician’s advice, everything would work out. If I parented the “right” way, he would simply grow out of it. (Even the nutritionist said so. Many toddlers are picky, after all.)
The right way rewards.
The right way is calm.
The right way allows playing with food.
The right way requires a no-thank-you bite.
The right way includes children in grocery shopping.
And my favorite? The right way encourages cooking with children.
(Henry loves to cook. He does not love to eat.)
If all else fails, the right way leads to feeding therapy.
The right way is a joke.
The real right way is to submit my parenting to God every day and trust him with the results. Because the right way of the world? It’s always a formula from a guru.
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Believing the formula may lead to control, anger, defensiveness, defeat and resentment.
Believing the guru may leave no room for God to move.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with advice and certainly nothing wrong with strategies backed by research. I’m a big fan of both. What is wrong is holding tightly to them, wearing blinders to exceptions, and forgetting the limits of our responsibility.
If the answers are formulaic – if a plus b always equals c, then I can manage the outcome. At least, I like to think I can. But the truth is that God is always in charge of the outcome. I wanted the answers to raising a healthy eater to come from books, and sometimes the only answers that make sense are the ones from The Good Book:
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment…
We love God more than we love our own agenda.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-20)
We love Henry through the meal times.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)
We do not create strife.
Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. (Psalm 139:4)
We remember God knows our fears and struggles even before we do.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
We know that each person in this family was created on purpose, and God will continue his good work in us whether or not Henry eats vegetables.
What would you like to control? What would it look like to trust God with it instead?