I know I am a couple of days late on this thread, but I read it a couple of days ago and didn’t find time to post until now.
I was/am a picky eater. Always have been. My parents did the same type of thing you did, I am still a picky eater, and no- I don’t hate my parents, but I do think that the way they handled that was wrong. Even my mom wonders what purpose all of that fighting served.
As I read through the thread, I can see that the OP is resistant to the idea of letting the child eat what they want, maybe in part to it being presented as “permissive” or feeling like he was made out to be some huge meanie ;).
OK, I’ll let you know what we have decided on for our house. NO forcing bodily functions. No forced eating, sleeping, pottying. Our kids eat, sleep and potty very well despite us not forcing any of these issues (or maybe because we don’t force them).
Let me just state right now that we are FAR from “permissive parents” we have just worked (and work every day) very hard to choose our battles carefully. Our kids are not allowed to be disrespectful, rude, etc. They are not allowed their every whim.
I’ll try to stick to the food topic. We keep healthy foods in the house, we just don’t have junk here, so— our kids can eat anything here and I can be sure they are getting “good” foods. For breakfast, we each have what we want most days, a healthy cereal (which the kids can get for themselves), wheat toast with peanut butter (which I have almost everyday), fresh fruit from the fridge, etc. I pour them cups of milk and they decide from there. No big deal. Dh and I rarely want the same thing every morning, so why should the kids?
Lunch time, I usually ask what kind of sandwhich they want- meat and cheese, or PBJ, and I set out a bowl of fruit or fresh veggies, unless we are eating leftovers from the night before. But- sandwhich is always an option for them.
Dinner- I make a meal that dh and I like, the kids usually choose to have that, but if they don’t want that, they can just eat some of the fresh veggies and have a bowl of yogurt, or a PBJ on wheat.
For snacks thoughout the day, they can have fruit or veggies which they can grab for themselves from the fridge or crackers or cheerios from the cupboard.
All in all, they eat pretty healthfully, and we never have to battle over something as futile as food issues. It is really great, I must say.
I choose to make issues of things like kindness, manners, respect, that kind of thing. We just made a choice to not force certain things, and take issue only with what is truly important.
If you do this, your kids won’t be spoiled brats, I promise, parents are “spoiling” when they allow children to be rude/ disrespectful, etc. not when they allow them to eat what they want when they want it.
You do need to teach your children what to do at other people’s homes. So- at Nana’s house on Thanksgiving, my kids ate Carrots and rolls(they didn’t whine about not liking Turkey). Nana didn’t even notice I don’t think (or didn’t care more likely), but I have been to family meals where my niece and nephew were “forced” to eat and boy were those uncomfortable meals with little family joy involved. I want family meals to be happy times of togetherness, not battle ground, yk?