Welcome to my weekly Bad Mom Advice column where I attempt to answer all of your parenting questions as only I know how — with zero degree in early childhood development, but with the experience of raising four kids and not having any of them in prison – yet! Plus, I back all my advice on numerous scientific research, which may or may not include me making fun of your dumb kid behind your back and drinking a bunch of wine! Welcome to Bad Mom Advice!
I recently became stepmother to a 5-year-old girl with some developmental delays due to early-life lead poisoning. She’s a sweet child and I’m fortunate to have a very good relationship with her. However, meals are becoming a nightmare. She’s finally gaining weight and is able to come to us and tell us she’s hungry, so we are frequently preparing small meals for her throughout the day. The problem arises when she selects which food she wants, watches me prepare it, eats two bites, and suddenly “my belly is full.” We tried letting her eat just what she wanted, but we found she’d come back half an hour later claiming she was hungry, yet refusing to eat the leftovers from earlier. When we encourage her to eat what’s on her plate– food that, again, we allowed HER to select– she declines. And if we insist, she melts down. Full-on sobbing hysterics. “I miss Mommy!” She has never, ever said that before. Hmm. “Do you miss Mommy because Daddy told you to finish your potatoes?” “Yes.” “Mommy would also tell you to finish your potatoes, and I’m asking you to finish your potatoes, because this is the fifth time today you’ve asked for food that you didn’t eat, and we’re finished wasting food.” The hardest part isn’t dealing with her inconvenient eating habits, though. The hardest part is that when she melts down to get out of having to clear her plate, her dad picks her up and cuddles her and turns on her favorite movie and basically rewards her for demanding and then wasting her food, while I’m the mean, heartless, bad guy because her tears don’t move me in this scenario. I can’t enlist her mother’s help, because reasons, and trying to talk to her dad just causes a fight, because I’m “attacking his angel.”
I’m not attacking the little princess; I’m just tired of wasting time and food. Help me?