So mashed potatoes and gravy aren’t your child’s favorite foods? I’m not surprised. Who takes the time to make homemade gravy for a normal dinner? Not this mom! Let’s not even get started on green bean casserole. My daughter prefers her green beans sauteed in some balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil.
Let’s face it, Thanksgiving meals might feel like homey, familiar comfort food for the adults, but it’s a table full of oddly rich mush for plenty of kids. These traditional meals just aren’t how lots of modern mothers cook. And if you have a picky eater like I do, that can cause a little bit of drama once these big family get togethers roll around.
I cannot count the number of times that an aunt or sister-in-law has become disappointed when my daughter refused to try her “Famous Five-Cup Salad” or “Great-Grandmother’s Baked Beans.” My daughter turns up her nose and grimaces at the food, then they look at me, fully expecting me to force feed my daughter and make her pretend to enjoy every bite. It makes my meal stressful and full of whispered bickering with my daughter.
But what would happen if I just decided not to make my kid scarf down a bunch of food she doesn’t like? Ohhhhh, the mom guilt. I’ve tried it once or twice. I get glares from other parents who are going through the same fight with their kids but haven’t thrown in the towel just yet. Inevitably, their little one says, “Why doesn’t Brenna have to eat it?” Then, I feel guilty for making another parent’s meal worse. Other extended family glare at me, wondering why I can’t order my child to eat something. It becomes an unspoken indication of my lax disciplinary skills.
Well you know what, guys? This year, I don’t want to feel guilty. And I don’t want to spend my Thanksgiving arguing with my daughter under my breath. I want to let her eat macaroni and cheese and homemade rolls and call it a day. Maybe I’ll make her try one bite of the foods I put on her plate. If she doesn’t like them, she doesn’t have to eat them.
Then, I want to look around the table and feel completely justified in not turning our meal into a battle of stubbornness between my four-year-old and me. I want to face the glares head on and explain that my child is a picky eater. She’s not big on new things. And this day is supposed to be a holiday for everyone. I’ll fight with her over trying new foods another time.
Every kid has their food hang-ups. You did when you were little. I refused to eat melted cheese. That included on top of my pizza. It included mac and cheese. I didn’t like any melted cheese, ever. I hated the texture. My poor mother wasted more time trying to make me try things with melted cheese in them than I care to imagine.
What if we just let our kids have those hang-ups? What if I just accept that my daughter hates potatoes of every shape and kind. Sure, it’s an odd thing to dislike so strongly. But it’s the truth. She doesn’t like them. So maybe I just won’t make her eat any this Thanksgiving. If someone wants to make me feel guilty about it, they can try. But I’d like to see how stubborn an adult would react if you loaded up their plate for them and then demanded they eat every bite, whether they like it or not. I think that would make anyone a bit cranky.