My topic today started out being about foster parents who resent feeding their foster children. Of course, not all foster parents are that way but it seems that some are. It appears that some people foster solely as a source of extra income.
It is well known that foster children often have some very serious traumatic effects that cause them to display a variety of behaviors. Picky eating has been linked with psychiatric problems, including anxiety and symptoms of depression. The mental problems sometimes worsen as the picky eating becomes more severe. That untouched plate and look of disgust on your child’s face at mealtime might be a sign.
My older son was eating Salmon at 18 mos of age. This amazed my parents. At the time, I had read a book by Ellyn Satter titled Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense. Because of what I read in this book, when a family friend made a separate meal for her daughter, I thought it wrong but kept my judgement to myself. Satter advises – It is a parent’s job to put good quality food on the table. It is the child’s job to eat. And mostly I agree.
Except that along came my younger son. I believe he has texture issues. He also developed car sickness at only a few months of age, which we eventually treated with a preventive tincture of ginger and peppermint with definite success. There is no way you can force this kid to eat anything he doesn’t want to. He’ll simply throw up and we have so much experience with those outcomes in the car, we have no desire to cause more of them.
Even so, he is healthy and according to his pediatrician of normal weight. It’s hard to tell with kids while they are growing up. They bulk up and then shoot up. I do my best to provide him with nutritious meals – even though some could be questioned by dietary purists. And I do cook for him separately.
Even so, my kids are not traumatized. I simply cannot understand any person willing to take on the challenges of children who have ended up in foster care and then take a hard-hearted attitude towards feeding them.
Related statements from a foster parent –
“When you get a child that comes to you and their family was on food assistance etc. – which I have nothing against but when they say ‘I don’t eat leftovers’, it really erks me. We had to use assistance many years ago and the amount they give you, was more than needed. You could buy name brand everything and eat like kings. I just said, ‘we don’t have that luxury, we have to pay for our food. So you’re going to have to get used to it.’ And its only maybe twice a week and definitely, I am not making something just for her.”
Some additional comments from a couple of foster parents to the above –
“We’re not personal chefs. Prepare them for the real world.”
“Foster kids eat what they get. I serve the same thing until they eat it. If they don’t like it, they can go to bed hungry.”
Personally, I do NOT believe ANY child needs to go to bed hungry, if it can be avoided. Period. In my family, no one is forced to eat leftovers but thankfully, my husband thinks they make a great, quick lunch. One final note – this country has an obesity epidemic and the causes are multiple. However, I do believe that allowing children to only eat what they feel like eating, teaches them to read their body signals. In fact, in our household, only the main meal is served as a family. The other times we eat, is when our hunger drives us to seek satisfaction.