I’m a Dad, but I’m only four years into this adventure, and I still have a lot to learn. I do know, from all my experience working with schools and child care, that parents have power–lots of power that some of us don’t truly recognize. Honestly, it’s kind of overwhelming to think about it!
Everything I do or don’t do, say or don’t say, influences my child. Actions speak louder than words, and those actions influence my daughter tremendously. This is no different when it comes to eating nourishing foods. My wife and I lead by example, and simply eat the foods we know are going to help our child develop to her fullest potential, both physically and mentally. My daughter eats what my wife and I eat, as will her little sister when the time comes. There may be some choices for smaller tummies, but the bottom line is we’re all eating the same food.
As a society we need to eliminate the concept of kid food vs. adult food. It’s a flawed strategy and parents are unintentionally doing a huge disservice to their children. Taste bud “wiring” starts at conception and by about age 5, a child’s taste buds are about 50% hard wired. 50%! That’s amazing–and distressing, if chicken nuggets and applesauce are the primary components in the kids’ diets.
The good news, and there is good news, is that a single menu for the entire family can be an easier concept to follow when all adults in the household support a consistent food philosophy. Here’s a really powerful example; a few years ago we helped pass out tasty smoothies at a school conference. Probably 99% of the kids were willing to try it. However, and this is what is really interesting, that number dropped about 10% when a parent said no. (This was almost always the dad/male). It was more of challenge to get the parents to try the new item, than the children. That’s pretty telling. When parents consistently lead by example, be eating making smart food choices, using proper manners, etc., children are much more apt to follow suit.