Since posting the other day about my current “mama/daughter” struggle (original post is here), I’ve had several conversations/comments regarding the same and I wanted to clarify a few things.
Jordan’s comment made me stop and consider my motives for this current struggle. (Thank you, Jordan! I am always better having stopped to analyze why I am taking the actions I am.) Having considered the situation, I am still completely confident in my choice to take on this “battle”…and here’s why.
First and foremost, this battle is for my daughter’s health. No, this isn’t a life-or-death issue. My daughter would survive quite well regardless of whether I forced her to eat what I put on her plate. However, two major traits in my daughter transform this into a health issue: (a) sadly, my daughter has inherited my despised bowels. I won’t go into details here — that would be embarrassing for more than just me. Suffice it so say, if my daughter does not get enough natural fiber in her diet (fiber pills have the opposite intended effect on my system and thus the same is probably true for my daughter), BAD, BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN! (b) my daughter, very much unlike her brother, is a ‘delicate’ AND ‘picky’ eater. If I told her that, should she decide not to eat what was offered for any particular meal, she could have no snacks until the next meal, she would be quite content with that situation….forever! And she would never eat a vegetable again in her life. Instead she would live off of milk, instant mashed potatos and the occasional meal that she liked. And her bowels would be grumpy for way too much of her little life.
It is first and foremost for her health that I choose to fight this battle. But that is not my only reason.
Secondly, my husband and I enjoy eating out (very occasionally) and we LOVE getting together with friends to share a meal. Should we allow our children to dictate what they will and will not eat based upon their preferences, we would have to endure many an embarrassing moment in front of friends where our children refused to eat the food our friends had prepared because it was “yucky”. Many parents I’m sure will not agree with us on this point, but it is important to us. Our children will learn that sometimes, they have to eat what is put in front of them because it is polite to the cook/hosts…regardless of whether they like it.
Thirdly, it is a matter of teaching our children to respect authority. I realize that my daughter is only 3 1/2 and still a “toddler”. But she already shows a very willful nature. I am not opposed to her being independent and head-strong. Those are valuable traits that I value….if they are kept in check. But, I believe that one of the major problems of our society is that many parents are no longer teaching their children to submit to authority.
(I know, I’m broaching the dreaded “s” word. Trust me, I have fought this word to, so please don’t send me hate mail!)
Everyone in life — if they want to lead a successful life — must submit to some form of authority….and my daughter will be no exception. I submit to the authority of my Sovereign LORD, to my husband (or at least, I am learning to!), to my boss (as relates to the job) and other authorities that come and go throughout my life. My husband submits to the authority of God, his boss, his professors, and so forth. This doesn’t mean we can’t question our authority(ies) (and as adults, choose to not follow bad authority!). Also, my husband and I do allow our children to question (respectfully) because we want them to be strong and to lead. But ultimately, we all need some authority in our lives. We need an authority that we know we can trust and that has our best interest in mind. If we do not teach our children to respect authority now, they will go through life expecting that they can lead the world without any grounding. And they will be exhausted doing so. Very Destructive!
But I am forcing myself off of this tangent….for now. 🙂
So, is this particular battle (eating dinner) crucial to learning respect for authority? Maybe, maybe not. The point is, I do have to choose my battles. I probably allow my children to “get away with” things that other parents would not allow their children to do. But this is a battle that I feel is important for many reasons and so, for my sweetie and I, it must be fought…jointly and continuously. My daughter isn’t old enough to understand these reasons. And so, for now, she must learn that sometimes “Because Mama/Daddy says so” is reason enough.