Tag Archives: thoughtful thursday

TT Dear Dance Mom

Thoughtful Thursday: Dance Drama

As we enter a new season of dance, I feel compelled to write a little something about the drama that plays out after every audition season.  And believe me when I tell you that I have had to bite my tongue and sit on my hands…because I do not want to be one of “those” parents. So this is a reminder for me, and hopefully if even one parent who finds themselves getting wrapped up in their children’s activities can get a little peace of mind, then my intention with this post is fulfilled.

I see this every dance season: (mostly) mothers who are comparing notes as they receive their children’s schedules, complaining to the other mothers, asking their children why someone is in a class and they are not, going to the studio directors and asking after their children and their placement.

Number one: Your children have no idea why other dancers are the classes they are in.  Leave them alone.  Dance at it’s most primal element is an expression of emotion (joy when you are a child)…so let them revel in the joy of dancing.

Number two: When you hound the teachers, you become one of “those” moms. Do you really want to be one of “those” moms?

Number three: This is not about you. If you enrolled your children in dance classes to fulfill one of your childhood ambitions, then you are doing both of you a disservice. Children who feel pressured to do something will probably do one of two things: quit when they are ready to claim a little independence; or if they stay in it to keep you happy they may suffer the ill effects of stress: illness, injury, depression. What is this childhood ambition of yours really worth?

 

Here is the thing: if your child went through an audition process to be placed, their instructor saw them.  They see where they are today, and if you have history with the school, then likely, they have seen them the last 2-3 years.

Leave the schedule be. Even mindful teachers sometimes overlook children through the audition process, and when that happens then they will move your child into the correct placement. That is the key: THEY do it.  “They” as in the teacher, and “they” as in the child. You stay on the “cool parents” list, and your child has the joy of accomplishment as their progress is recognized and they on their own merit, get to move up to the next level.  When the child moves up on their own merit, they are not the kid whose mother got them in the class (people talk…both parents and children).  When a child does the work and gets promoted on their ability, the child knows they earned it themselves. Hence, the opportunity for a huge milestone on their journey to build self-esteem.

This is what it all comes down to in my book: either you trust your child’s instructors, or you don’t.  If you trust them, then deep down you can come to the realization that maybe your expectations for your child do not match their abilities “for now”. If you feel like the teachers are not doing their job or are not judging your child fairly, then by all means find another dance school that is a better fit for your family.

Bear in mind that “for now” doesn’t mean forever, it doesn’t mean for always…just for now.  Even though it digs at me sometimes, I have to go back to my mantra: I would rather see my child in the front line of a lower-level class, instead of pushing them up to the next level where they are relegated to the back line and lower self-esteem because they can’t quite keep up just yet.

I am not suggesting that you do not allow your child to goal-set.  Here is an idea if there is a class in which your child would like to participate, or you want them in.  Instead of appealing to the teacher to admit them, ask the teacher what the child needs to work on to be promoted to that next level. Then, if your child wants to, bring them in to the school a few minutes earlier so that they can work on those skills before classes start. I have seen other families hire some of the senior students help coach…that works, too, as long as it’s a child-led desire to do the extra classes to improve.

We have also seen our children flourish when they perform solos or small group numbers.  It allows them to receive more individualized instruction. In addition, a mindful teacher will choreograph a routine that plays to the child’s strengths while also putting in some sequences that challenge them to grow.

So trust the process, mama and papa. If you want your child to love dancing, then take them to class, feed them well, ensure they get plenty of sleep, keep them in shoes that fit, and enjoy watching them grow in the art of dancing. For grow they will, in their skills and their love for dance.

For tips on finding a good school, click HERE.

P.S. This is the cool part…when you leave your kids and their teachers alone, and you just sit on your hands and close your mouth because you trust the teachers and your trust their process…amazing things can happen.  One wish: your child becomes an amazing artist who is poetry in motion.

We had the honor of watching a very cool and collected Puma win not one, not two, but five national first place awards at the Dance Masters of America National Convention. Two for her solo, two for her duo with Night Owl, and one with her small group. She is a child who was “passed over” year after year as other children around her age were advanced. I trusted the process and stayed the course, trusting that her instructors are amazing, caring and capable people, and that they would move her when she was ready. Our beautiful, self-confident child reaped the rewards of HER hard work and dedication because SHE cared and did if from a self-drive to succeed. So very proud of her. For my part, thankful for the wisdom that comes with maturity. Because God knows that it took a lot for me to be still.

 

SPFgrounding

Thoughtful Thursday: Grounding

My only solution as I see the chaos building in our world is to turn inwards. It’s extremely idealistic and somewhat irresponsible. At this point, I am operating at the level of self-preservation. I have to find and create a false sense of calm because being kind to my children is my ultimate goal. As they hear of all the unrest in the world, my need to be their comfort and their sane guide outweighs my desire to listen to the 24/7 news cycle.  Because quite frankly, it feels like a replay.

We are studying World War I with Puma and Night Owl right now. Just last night, we read about the Armenian Genocide. I don’t remember learning about this when I learned about the World Wars in school. I also don’t think we covered all the colonial connections that brought this war to epic proportions (for the time). The loss of life among the military and the civilians, the complete disregard for people of other ethnicities fighting for a few European powers, the slaughter of the 18-24 year old generation of the time, is mind-boggling.

And yet, another genocide was going to play out again within 30 years.  Registration if you held a certain heritage and/or religious belief. Internment of suspect people groups. Plus more of the above-mentioned atrocities.

Here we are, not even 100 years away from the events of World War II, hearing what I can only imagine to be a similar rhetoric. Aleppo – AGAIN. I keep asking myself, is this really happening? How can we be in that place for a potential repeat? Where is the “storming of the gates” and the insistence that we will not be victims to the whims of politicians AGAIN?

As our children learn of current events, we have a clear metric: how is this similar to what happened in 1914 and 1939? What would be a different way to approach the situation? I also add this question: What’s one small thing we can do in our corner of the world?

We have friends in active duty in the military. We have friends who are Muslims. The fact that our children are aware and cognizant that the world is entering a period of unrest makes me glad to be raising sentient humans, and at the same time sad that they are having to wrestle with these questions and wonder about the safety of our friends. Worry about our own safety as people of Mexican heritage.

I received a great suggestion from a healer: what if we focused on grounding? Being in this place, where we are now, to foster a sense of security. To that end, I have made a more concerted effort to spend time outside with our children. It has meant shifting my focus from GO-GO-GO and being a slave to my daily outline, and instead taking an intentional break during our school day to go play outside.

She also offered the suggestion of creating a family altar. It will allow each of our family members to contribute a meaningful item that represents them or something they value, and serve as a focus point for our togetherness and our blessings. As we continue to grapple with all the change we have faced as a family personally over the last twelve months, it will provide a “constant”, a sense of stability.

It is also a signal of potential: we will create the altar with the intention that things can be added as we explore the world, or removed if they no longer serve us. This is a timely representation of the phase we are in now, downsizing and releasing the physical items that maybe we thought we needed, but in the final evaluation serve us no greater purpose other than to be something to hold on to just because we might need it or we might miss it or whatever else we use to justify things occupying a space.

Those are the two small things that we are doing in our home to create a sense of peace amidst the chaos, the calm in the coming storm. Personally, I have also added meditation and affirmations back into my daily routine. I created my own little altar of sorts on my bathroom counter…not the most sacred of spaces, but it is one that I occupy every day and in that sense, it serves me because I can see it and ground myself as MOTHER every day. Life is good.

If you are feeling this call to create a sense of calm and stability for your family, what are you doing?  I would love to hear your ideas – please leave me a comment below.

P.S. One thing I am not being is complacent.  Please continue to call your local, state and national representatives and make your voice heard. Even if they don’t listen to you or represent you, do not let this be another era where the people are questioned for remaining silent or doing nothing.

Find your Senator: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Find your Representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Find your local government officials: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Read about effective lobbying as a private citizen HERE.

spfsept15

Thoughtful Thursday: Who is your clan?

As our family continues to move through this season of flux, something occurred to me…if we move across the country, I am losing my clan.  My call text-at-the-spur-of-the-moment crew.  My people who I can reach out to with no notice, and they show up for me.  As I would show up for them.

I have two aunts who live on our end of the metro area who are pretty reliable if they are in town.  I have a whole crew of dance moms at the dance studio who help keep an eye on the kids if we have errands to run instead of sitting at the studio to wait for our kiddos. There are a few former birth students we are privileged to call friends.  I haven’t had to call on them yet; I imagine if we did, they would help us out.

Then there are my birth people. These incredible (mostly) women who I can call or text when I have questions about anything. Whether it’s an answer I need for class or a situation I’m seeing at a birth, they are there and they answer back almost immediately.  A lot of the time it’s a crazy-time of day text to clarify a finer point of breastfeeding or hospital care to make sure that my words are informative without crossing the line of giving advice that I am not licensed to give.

Connections of family, common geography, or common interest that we take for granted…it literally just hit me that we would have to start all over in a new city if we move. We do not have the amount of family there that we do here, they are not close to where we would live, we would literally be strangers to everyone.

I had to go back and think about how we built our clan of support here in this area.  Family is built in – which is such a lovely way to live – hurrah for family.

As for the rest, the dance studio moms we have known for upwards of eight years since our Puma started dancing, and slowly as the other get involved and we figure out which families are sticking around, we get to know them as well.  Thanks to social media and texting, we are in touch with those that we can trade “let me know if my child needs anything” help with when we need to run an errand.

Aside from the community we have formed through teaching, the library was another place we found families that would go on to become friends.  I guess we’ll be going to the library a lot if we move.

As I put my thinking cap on to think of other ways to build a new clan if we move: I will have to seek out the local La Leche League meeting, see if there are any doula groups that meet-up on a regular basis, and see if anyone is hosting birth circles or birth story sharing groups.

The thought of starting over as a childbirth educator is a little daunting.  We know several midwives in the area now, and we have a good working relationship with a couple obstetric practices, and we know lots of good providers for all the things that are not in our scope as childbirth educators.

And now for true confession time:
As nervous as it made me, I loved performing on stage.  I could put on make up, put on my costume, and assume a persona. I knew no one else out there knew my routine and that they would admire me as a performer.  Once the music started, I knew my routine and I just went out there and enjoyed the moment.

Meeting new people in a new group does not involve music. It does not involve stage makeup or costumes or performing. It requires me to take a risk and put my true self out in front of others – and we all just want to be loved. It makes me vulnerable in a way that brings out my inner eight-year-old: “what if they don’t like me?”

So today’s realization is that I need to start getting used to the idea of meeting new people and starting over just in case we are really moving across the country. I think that the purpose of finding our new clan will be a good motivation to do some mindful meditation and build up my self-esteem: I am loved, I am lovable, and I radiate love.  Maybe a little crazy.

BUT worth it – because if we move, our children are going to be in the same boat. I need to be able to be a good example for them so that they can go out there with confidence…as they say, I need to” fake it until you make it” so that I set a good example. I will have to be honest and tell them that I am nervous…I don’t want to be fake to the point of creating an expectation that our children find unrealistic.

So here I go, boldly forward with a new focus for meditation. Whether we move or not, bathing my mind with loving intentions will ultimately benefit the four little people I love the most. And that is always worth it.

 

spfsept8

Thoughtful Thursday: Ageing

Wednesday, 6:00 PM

When do we start caring about what others think of us?

I am sitting her watching our youngest dance joyfully in the middle of the coffee shop.  Puma is mortified because Otter is hopping around; doing her best estimation of the steps she has watched her siblings do in class today.

Puma hisses at her to stop.  Otter keeps dancing away without a care in the world.

I love it.  I wonder – will I ever be able to find that exuberant spirit again? And I ask you: Do you remember being little and just doing whatever came to mind and not caring who saw or who commented?

I have dreaded ageing.  I remember doing the competition makeup for some of our older ladies when I was a pro dancer in my 20s and comparing their sagging eyes to my fresh, tight ones.  Now as my eyes look more and more like those I used to despair at having, I have to face the fact that I am closer to being that older woman now.

What have I gained in those years between tight smooth eyes and my puffy aged ones?  What have I learned since my hands were smooth and clear, now that I look at my wrinkled and newly spotted ones?

I won’t lie – I am so tempted to buy into the miracle creams and soothing tonics to tighten my eyes, smooth the wrinkles, and lessen the look of age on my hands.

What stops me?  The refusal to deny all that my body has endured since my 20s when I was the picture of vibrant youth.  I have loved deeply.  I have been heartbroken.  I met the perfect partner for me. I have been pregnant five times and birthed four humans into this world.  I have faced fear and overcome.  I have triumphed.  I have been humbled.  All of it has happened in this skin that houses my soul. A soul that is constantly evolving, learning, and growing.

I know that I could do all those things and still look ageless, and I applaud those women who pull it off whether it’s by genetics or products. A part of me envies you.  When I look at the sum of things, I realize that I don’t want to look ageless. I want to carry my age with grace.  I believe that if I continue to feed my body with good food, then I don’t need chemical peels on a regular basis to allow my beauty to shine (I’ll keep it as my guilty pleasure on vacations! Love my facials!!).  If I continue to exercise moderately, I won’t be a tight, taut figure ever again. However, I can keep my heart fit so it can keep beating and meet future generations of our family.

So here I sit…closer to 45 than I ever imagined.  I once thought that I would like to die by the time I was 65 – I never wanted to look old.  Now I realize that if I died in 20 years, I would miss out on the greater portion of our children’s lives…and that I’m not afraid to be old anymore.  I am more afraid that I won’t have the time to do all the things I want to do before my life ends: raise our children, travel as a family, go back to school, study pregnancy and nutrition at a PhD level, and continue to speak on the things I am passionate about: pregnancy, the birth journey, breastfeeding and parenting.

In the interest of transparency, here is my true confession…I don’t like my gray hair.  I will be coloring my hair until it looks ridiculous and the rest of me points to the fact that I should indeed be a gray-haired old lady.

BUT the best part of being that gray-haired old lady that I also learned from our older dance students: they got to have fun again…with no filter. Those older ladies flirted mercilessly, told stories of their youth, danced without censure, and loved being alive.  Many of them enjoyed being able to pass off as a blond!  I don’t know about the flirting…actually I do know…since I am happily married I will refrain from that for now. I will probably try everything else.

I will take the lesson to be carefree from our little love and the little old ladies…today is the day to start dancing again, without a care for who is watching, who is judging, and what they have to say about it. And be in this day, present, and living my life to the fullest measure. I will be enjoying the fact that I was gifted another 24 hours to breathe, live, love, and age another day.

BLOG ww 918 spf O&A.8

Thoughtful Thursday: Fears

Did you catch these pictures yesterday?

BLOG ww 918 spf O&A.9 BLOG ww 918 spf O&A.7

 

 

Otter could not get enough of this friendly little snake, called a Rosy Boa.  I felt a little better knowing that this was a snake who had already reached it’s full size.  It took everything in me to get close to take pictures…OMGosh my skin was crawling and my tummy was doing flips and still, I wanted to contain my scream and encourage my children in their safe exploration.

It turns out that I learned this fear…did you know that we are only born with two fears?  We are born with the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises…makes sense that those are built into our DNA as survival mechanisms.  Everything else we are afraid of, we learned to be afraid of.

I tucked this little factoid away in my management days…I was always looking to learn new information about how to inspire people.  Now I have four wonderful people who I want to inspire to live life to the fullest…and I have to set my own fears aside so that they can explore, learn and grow in their world.  I did tell them how brave I thought they were to be petting so many snakes (there were three there and they touched all three of them!!!)

On a side note, I was so glad to hear the presenter tell the children that even if they thought the snake was friendly, never to touch or attempt to pet a snake in the wild.  We will be driving that lesson home since we have a “pet” snake at our summer house.  It’s actually a king snake that burrows near our home, and I am happy to let him have his space since he eats rattlesnakes.

They could tell I was afraid.  After thinking about it, I really need to come up with an answer besides, “I don’t like snakes.”  I am teaching them fear and prejudice with that answer.  While I know some fears are probably considered “healthy fears”, I do not want to teach them one that hinders their exploration or respect for other living creatures.  I was thinking I can say something like, “Snakes make me feel uncomfortable.  Mommy is so glad to see you exploring, though. I think you are so brave.  Thank you for showing me I do not have to be afraid.”

So, another parenting lesson learned and filed away for our next Animal Encounter experience.  We will be going back next month, so I will have a chance to get it right!

What do you think?  Do you have any fears that you do or do not want to teach your children?  How do you handle those situations??

 

Thoughtful Thursday: On Being “That” Mom

me taking the 1,456th pictures of my son & I, can't get enough of him!

me taking the 1,456th pictures of my son & I – can’t get enough of him!

 

 

Happy Thursday! Today I thought I would share some random thoughts about mama-hood that are always bouncing around my head. Specifically about stereotypes and being “that” mom.

The mom that always gets funny looks & sideways glances, at the park, at toddler classes, at the museum, at restaurants. I am definitely “that” mom.

“That” Mom whose child always has snot/drool/etc. on his face

T gets a runny nose with every set of teeth that come in, it has happened every single time since his first set at 5 ½ months. I know it is due to his teeth and sometimes even progresses to a cough. Read more about that here. I know he isn’t “sick” and I follow his cues on if we need to stay home, take it easy, or go about with our normal activities. In addition to that, I try really hard every day to respect my son’s body and space. I allow him to wipe his own face and recently his dad taught him to blow his nose, yes it is not as efficient as me holding him and doing a rough swoop to get everything but when/if it bothers him, he knows how to take care of it himself.

“That” Mom who is always super late

Living on a toddler‘s timetable is a foolproof way to never get anywhere even remotely on time. T likes to take his time: waking up, getting dressed, eating, going to the bathroom, going to sleep, walking, pretty much everything. He needs natural, organic transitions from one activity to the next and we have a much more harmonious relationship when I provide that. Both of us are happier and working together and it makes for much smoother, calmer days. Do I sometimes feel like my entire life is dictated by what a very small human feels or wants right then? Yes. Is it hard to deal with sometimes? Yes. But in reality, that is my life. Right now, my entire days revolve around facilitating my son’s journey; it is a very short period in what I hope to be a very long life for him, so yes, he most often decides when.

“That” Mom who always has stuff on her clothes

Yes, I am a mess everyday. I walk and bike where we need to go and am often sweaty. I always sit on the ground with my son and inevitably get grass, dirt, dew, you name it, on my clothes. My son is also a “nibbler”. He has food out all day long (and snacks when we are out and about) and alternates between playing and eating and checking in with me for a hug, kiss, pick up, nursing and whatever is on his hands always ends up on my shirt, pants, or in my hair. If it’s not that, it’s one of the above that is now a permanent stain. At a point in the future, parenting will be much more hands off, and maybe then I will manage to keep myself clean. I parallel it with the quote by Mary Randolph Carter that “A perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life”. My clothes are definitely representative of all the “living” we have done that day.

‘”That” Mom who treats her toddler “like a baby”

I wear my son in a front carry most places we go. I am almost always hugging him, cuddling him, kissing him, or just rubbing his back while he sits in my lap. He sleeps in our family bed for naps and nighttime. I nurse him whenever he wants and if he wants my attention or me close by, I give it to him. He amazes me almost daily with how much he knows, understands, comprehends, and observes for someone so young. He is definitely a little person of his own, and far from having the dependant nature of an infant that only knows being close to mama, breastfeeding, and touch, but he still enjoys those things, and in my opinion, at this point they are nothing but beneficial. He will grow up and be his own, independent being, but as of now he has only been on this earth for 17 months of what will hopefully be 100+ years. In the grand scheme of things, he is still a baby.

“That” Mom who is always talking about her child

Being a mama is my job right now, and I take it very seriously. So yes, I pretty much only talk about my work. And yes, I can tell you are not that interested but it’s my life and it is pretty all consuming for me. I also am just so obsessed with my son; he is the best.

“That” Mom who never tells her child no

I was explaining “gentle hands” to T after he was hitting me the other week and another parent I was talking with commented, “Gentle hands? Does that actually work? Doesn’t he know what ‘no’ means?”

I choose to always explain why or how we do things with T. Regardless of whether or not it is most effective immediately, I believe it is the right way to interact with him and will yield the most positive behavioral results in the long run.

It has been a crazy journey thus far, but as of now I have really embraced what kind of mama I am. I find myself being less and less self conscious about all of the things above as time passes too. Mostly, it has been a lesson for me in not judging, not labeling, and not isolating myself because some people choose to do things differently. No matter what kind of mom I am, I am trying my hardest everyday and that is all that matters. Funny looks, comments, and my own insecurities aside, I try to remind myself of that as often as I can.

There is also no greater feeling than being surrounding by other mamas who support, uplift, and laugh with you no matter *what* kind of mom you are that day. Finding our tribe in Arizona was invaluable to me that first year, we are still working on finding our perfect place here in California <3

Share your thoughts with us! How do you see yourself in your role as mom? How do other people see you? Has being a mom made you less prone to judging others?? I love hearing other mamas stories and perspectives!

TT SPF

Thoughtful Thursday: Accepting the Present

T & I attended our local La Leche League meeting last night and had a great time, as always. It left me with a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head, which I thought I would share with you all for Thoughtful Thursday!

The topic was weaning + nutrition, which ironically enough was what I had a million questions about at last month’s meeting. One of the great leaders directed me to this wonderful book then, which I immediately checked out from their lending library and had the entire month to read, ponder, and realize what is right for our family.

One of the other mamas there was extremely frustrated with night nursing and her 15 month old, and was sharing how she was determined to night wean ASAP.  She was tired, needs to be up early for work often and just needed something to change big time. My heart went out to her, that is usually me, with my ongoing struggles of breastfeeding / being a mama in general.

I felt different this month though; lately I have been trying to accept the present for what it is, just the present. Not a product of what we have done in the past or a foreshadowing of what things will be like in the future, just what it is, today. When I start thinking that by nursing all day and all night and sharing a bed with T since birth it has made him a light/difficult sleeper, or that by nursing so frequently at 17 months I am hindering T’s socializing, or that if I am still nursing on demand now T may not wean until 4 or 5 years old, I can start to drive myself CRAZY.

Nursing is so controversial; there is so much information, so many opinions, and even more so when it comes to nursing + sleep or nursing + toddlers. Maybe that is why I am always struggling, always analyzing our breastfeeding relationship to try and change behaviors?

Breastfeeding is without a doubt a lifestyle choice; just like choosing to be a responsive or positive or empathetic or attachment parent. It takes work, dedication, sacrifice, and it will not always be easy. But it is a tool, a tool to provide nourishment and comfort. Sometimes T needs a hug in the middle of his play, sometimes he just wants to be picked up, sometimes he wants to read books, and sometimes he wants to nurse. I don’t question when he will stop “needing” hugs from me, and I am no longer questioning when he will stop needing to nurse. I do not always want to read “Oh The Thinks You Can Think” or “Put Me In The Zoo” or “If You Give A Moose A Muffin” 27 times in a row, but if I can, I do, and that is the same way I have been thinking about breastfeeding. If I can, I do.  If we need to make a change, we do, until we are in a better place. If we have a bad night, we stick close to home the next day and just take it easy, and try again the next night. If T needs to nurse 12 times throughout the night, he must be going through something. If he is nursing 12 times every night for quite awhile, then it must be something that nursing isn’t solving, so we will try some other things.

Everything changes so quickly with small children I have realized, and although this would have seemed crazy and overwhelming to me when I had an infant, up until even a few months ago, the present is all I ever needed to be concerned with. T will need things today that he may not have needed yesterday and may not need tomorrow. I am here to meet those needs as best I can, breastfeeding is just one of many tools I have to do so.

taking a break in the forest for some milk (:

taking a break in the forest for some milk (:

Focusing on the present day and the dynamics and workings of my & T’s relationship right now has made a world of difference in my outstanding questions, worries, and frustrations surrounding breastfeeding. It definitely lends itself well to other parenting challenges too and I hope to be able to keep these thoughts and “accepting the present” mantra handy for all kinds of situations.

Did anyone else struggle with breastfeeding “decisions”? When to wean, night wean, stop nursing on demand, etc? Do people ever tell you your son or daughter’s sleep/social/eating habits are because of breastfeeding or extended breastfeeding? We would love to hear your thoughts and stories!

 

Personal Health Coach Blue Russ helps clients achieve a healthier lifestyle through a holistic approach to food and healing.

TT: Breastfeeding and Eating Habits

Thoughtful Thursday:  Did you know that breastfeeding naturally establishes healthy, life-long eating habits?

A little deviation from all the beautiful MotherBabys we have been sharing with you as we ruminate today!  Have you seen THIS article in the New York Times?  It prompted today’s post.  Here is an excerpt:

“A 2007 study, published in Appetite, revealed that 85 percent of parents attempt to get young children to eat more at mealtime using praise, food rewards and reasoning. Another study, published in Pediatrics this May, showed that more than half of parents asked their adolescent children to eat all the food on their plate, while a third prompted their kids to eat more even when they stated they were full.

This isn’t about pointing fingers at parents. After all, getting children to eat all of their meal was a necessity for most of human history, when food was scarce. Children didn’t have the luxury of taking only a few bites or skipping a meal, because the next meal wasn’t certain. But today, we live in a food-plenty environment in which the next meal, snack and eating opportunity is certain and bigger than ever. Despite this reality, children are still born with the ability to regulate their food intake. Unfortunately, research shows controlling feeding practices, like “clean your plate,” negatively affect food regulation skills as children age.”
NYTimesBlog: Motherlode – Adventures in Parenting
“Saying Good Riddance to the Clean-Plate Club” by Maryann Jacobsen
August 2, 2013

Did you know that breastfeeding naturally keeps a child’s “empty/full” satiety meter working?  A MotherBaby with a working supply and demand mechanism makes enough milk to meet all of the baby’s daily nutritional needs.*  Breastmilk is delivered in the quantity that a child needs.  How it works when a child is nursing for nutrition: once the child is full, (s)he stops nursing, and they move on with their day until they are hungry again.  As they grow and start solids, they can follow that same “empty/full” mechanism that works.  The chances are very good that when they say they are full, they really mean it.

Thanks to parental instinct, and then the La Leche League meetings on “Weaning and Starting Solids”, we have never forced our Sweet Peas to finish eating the food on their plate. We offer healthy food and allow them to choose what goes on their plate.  The standard is a protein, a veggie and a carb choice for their lunch and dinner meals.** If the kiddos have food left on plate and are asking for dessert, we’ll say that if they have room for dessert, they probably have room for two more bites. Two bites and a dessert later, plates are cleared to the sink with no drama.  And sometimes there are no more bites and no dessert, or two more bites and no dessert…whatever happens, we want the children to feel like they are in control and that they are honoring their bodies.

When the kiddos do leave a full plate, as parents we try to remember to make it the next snack and/or next meal. While we don’t want to force food, we do want them to honor the fact it represents work to provide it and work to prepare it for them.

This system works for us, although I get a lot of grief from the grandparents about how we feed our children.  It was nice to get confirmation from another source that we are not totally screwing up our kids, in this area, anyway!

What do you think?  Are there any food wars at your place?

*Did you have a hard time making milk for your baby?  Did you have to feed your baby formula?  I am so sorry.  This post is not a judgement on your inability to breastfeed your baby.  I wish you were blessed with a wonderfully supportive lactation consultant who taught you to feed the baby first, and that they helped you with formula feeding to keep your baby’s inborn satiety mechanism intact by recognizing feeding cues.  It was probably so hard to throw that expensive formula down the sink!  If you did have a great LC, please leave her or his name in the comments so that other mamas can use them should a need arise.

**How the “Bowman Buffet” works in practice:  There are always two protein choices because I am a vegetarian and Bruss is a carnivore.  As for the vegetables, there is a constant supply of freshly peeled and sliced carrot sticks because those are a kiddo favorite, and there are always greens in the house – so they can pick carrots and/or salad.  When it comes to carbs, we offer today’s freshly made selection or a reheat of yesterday’s leftovers.  Buffet!!