What’s a Grandma to Do?

a special feature by Jane Steiner, grandmother extraordinaire*

The feeding of our grandchildren has become an industry unto itself. How many of us fed our children quinoa and tofu? I think it’s safe to say…none of us! Not that these are dangerous or unhealthy foods, but come on!! Most of our children have grown to be healthy adults. I am certainly not advocating going against the wishes of the parents, and there are many children who have legitimate allergies, but this seems more trendy than a medical issue.

And the rules–jeez! “Clean your plate before you can have dessert, proteins before carbs. You had sugar at lunch, so none at dinner. Finish your milk. Eat all your veggies.” Human children cannot starve themselves to death. Their bodies tell them when they are hungry and when they are full. We see this with nursing babies. They know when they are satisfied and they will stop nursing.

The solution — come to Grandma’s house!!

–Mealtime is supposed to be a pleasant experience, not a battlefield! Grandparents can make that happen even if it is only a few times a week.

–Have the children participate in the preparation. Set an inviting family dinner table, and then EVERYONE sit down! No TV, no iPad, just pleasant conversation.

–Offer the children a bit of whatever it is that you are serving. Try to make dishes you know they enjoy. If they say, “no thank you”, don’t put it on their plates. None of this, “just one bite”.

–Set an example by eating what you have served yourself. By the way, at 2 1/2 or 3 years of age, children can feed themselves. They are not baby birds.

–After a reasonable amount of time, ask if they are finished. If they say, “yes”, clear their dishes. No begging, no bribing, no drama.

–Now it’s time for dessert!

Your grandchildren will love coming to your house for dinner. If their parents are with them, that’s a whole different “ball game”, Grandma — you know what I mean!!

*Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Jane Steiner received her BA in Early Childhood Education from Roosevelt University, and her post-graduate work at UCLA. She taught in the public schools in both Chicago and Los Angeles; and for ten years, she was an early childhood and preschool educator at Wilshire Boulevard Temple Mann Family Early Childhood Center in LA. Jane and her husband Jerry have three children, and seven grandchildren (and she believes that’s where she got her real education!).