Are Parents to Blame For Picky Eaters?

by Samantha on June 20, 2015

Whose fault is it when kids refuse to eat what's put in front of them?

girl picky eater

We’ve all dealt with the picky eating habits of our kids at one time or another. Whether it’s a disdain for broccoli or a dislike of asparagus, most parents have had to negotiate with their children about certain types of food that said child has deemed “gross.” I’ve done it myself and have used every trick in the book to get my kids to eat what I think to be a balanced and sufficient meal.

But what about those kids who consistently decline most food items put in front of them, demanding, instead another meal selection, snack or pronouncing a downright refusal to eat at all? What about them? Where did they get their chutzpah?

At the risk of being scolded, may I suggest that it may very well be from their parents?

Yes, their parents.

It’s safe to say that many kids are picky eaters because their parents have coddled them. Through fear that they will eat nothing and - gasp - go to bed hungry, they have been provided with their own personal chef and concierge, taking orders and serving meals on demand.

In many households, it is the child (or children) who have been allowed to dictate what is being served. In these homes, the parent(s) gives in to the child’s demands and makes special or separate meals for them. How many of us have given in and said, “okay, if you don’t want to eat this, I’ll make you something else?”

Guilty as charged. And it’s not a stretch to assume that you are too.

As parents (and mothers in particular - there, I said it), we worry about our children’s every need. Whether it’s the fact that they have a runny nose, a fever or the fear that they haven’t had enough to eat (in our opinion), so many of us feel the need to rectify the situation at any cost. It’s this parental instinct that takes over and shifts the balance of power from the parent to the child.

In the case of picky eating, the tendency for the parent to give in to the child’s refusal to eat sets up an expectation that all demands and requests will be accommodated.

In these scenarios, the child feels that they are in control and they don’t have to try anything. Also, it sets them up for unrealistic expectations as adults that they will be given in to whatever they ask for.

Allowing kids to set the stage for meals is just one example of the growing trend towards a child-centred philosophy of parenting. The rise of “helicopter parenting”and an age where over-protection is the norm, not the exception, just feeds (pun intended) kids desire to have all of their demands fulfilled.

Unfortunately, giving in to these demands just sets up kids for unrealistic expectations in the future. As difficult as it may be, it’s in our kids’ best interests to not always give in to their demands, particularly regarding food choices. In the absence of a specific allergy or inability to digest certain foods, what’s on the table for dinner should be just that - dinner, with no option for choice. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, when I was a kid, there was no choice - each meal was what we were eating and that was it. No consulting with us kids about whether or not they wanted to eat it, what they wanted instead, or why they didn’t like it. Not eating meant that they’d likely have a grumbling tummy and a voracious appetite the following morning.

It’s a hard thing to do, denying your child their preference for food, as there’s always the fear that they’ll starve. They won’t. Especially if there’s a fridge full of food and a healthy balanced meal in front of them that they have chosen not to eat. As difficult as it may be, as parents, we are obliged to teach our kids that there are not always choices in life. As they grow up and later when they become adults, they will need to know that sometimes, the luxury of choice is absent. More importantly, it’s crucial that children learn early to be flexible, accommodating and that sometimes they will have to just go with the flow and deal with the situation at hand instead of assuming that there will be an option. There won’t always be one.

Is your child a picky eater? How do you respond when your child won’t eat their meal? Do you give in or say “no?” Tell me about it in the comments section below.


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The Sting of Disinheritance

by Samantha on July 1, 2014

Do We Owe Our Kids Our Money After We're Gone?


You think that kids of celebrities have it easy? Think again.

Sting’s surprising announcement that he’s not leaving any of his vast fortune to his children was a shock to many. How could this multimillionaire leave his kids to have to *gasp* work for a living? It just didn’t seem right.

According to the rock legend, his decision comes from his personal philosophy about children not having things handed to them on a silver platter, even if  - as in the case of his own progeny - they come from Rock royalty. The rock superstar says that he will continue spending the money he’s earned as he has been doing all along, paying his staff and allocating it whenever and wherever he darn well pleases. He maintains that he’s spending his money now, not saving it up in a tidy sum to be disbursed amongst his children in the event of his death.

The news has gotta sting for his six children who are likely very aware of their father’s estimated $300 million net worth. After all, they’ve probably had more than comfortable lives as a result of their fathers’ vast income, in spite of what Sting maintains.

Even so, the idea of pending poverty or, at best, the life of a “working stiff” must be sobering considering the fact that the family home is an Elizabethan Lake mansion located on a 60 acre estate near Stonehenge. The obvious question that crosses many of our minds is “why?

Why would someone of such considerable means choose to make a decision that flies in the face of convention and leave his kids with bupkus?

Good-old mean-spiritedness, stinginess and general bad parenting attributes have been suggested as the reasons for Sting’s decision. But is he really in the wrong?

My initial reaction to his news was probably a common one: that his choice regarding money is hurting his children in more ways than one. Of course, they must feel incredibly pained, knowing that their father has consciously chosen to exclude them from a future windfall following his death. Having the knowledge that a parent has actively and purposefully decided to limit financial comfort for their children and instead, relegate the kids to a life of working for a living seems a tad harsh, particularly when the parent is of considerable means.

Yet, upon further reflection, it seems that Mr. Sumner has a point.

It would be very easy for his children to kick back and chill, knowing full well that regardless of their success in life or lack thereof, they’d be driving down “Easy Street” (likely in a customized and really expensive luxury vehicle) once old Dad had kicked the bucket. In many situations where incredible wealth is a foregone conclusion, this is more commonly the behaviour that kids of the well-to-do display, sadly. After all - why bother working hard and making an effort to achieve something in your life - at least financially - when a monetary windfall is a matter of course?

Not so for the children of Sting, however, as he had apparently advised his kids of their lack of inheritance early on. “They have to work. All my kids know that and they rarely ask me for anything, which I really respect and appreciate,” he explained.

As a result, all of his children have grown up knowing that they would not be handed an automatic ticket to la dolce vita and have planned accordingly. By most accounts, they are doing well.

Did the knowledge that daddy’s money would not automatically be disbursed to them give the kids more incentive to work hard and achieve something on their own? Perhaps. But, more importantly, one of parenthood’s most important lessons - that in the real world, nothing is handed to us on a silver platter - was demonstrated by Sting’s actions. In other words, the rock superstar prepared his kids for one of the harsh reality of life: no pain, no gain.

The fact of the matter is that without the solid values of good old-fashioned hard work, focus and intestinal fortitude that result in a strong character, parents are leaving their kids ill-prepared for life’s challenges. Living a life unfettered by the day-to-day hurdles that most of us experience may sound ideal but the reality is that those who have been given this “gift” have also been presented with a disadvantage as well. We all know that when the going gets tough, whether personally or professionally, that’s when we need to draw upon our inner strengths that have been cultivated over the years. Working hard, sometimes struggling, and building a thicker skin gives us the toughness that we require when life doesn’t go as planned.

For of those to whom much is given, much is required.” Except, that is, if you’re the child of a mega-millionaire. Then, what’s often required is very little as you reap the benefits of your parents’ hard work without lifting nary a finger. Kids in these circumstances are very often, sadly, unprepared for hard times or worse - they may never gain the emotional strength that results from the difficult life challenges that so many of us face.

Understood: Sting’s situation is atypical as most of us could only hope to earn $300 million in our lifetimes. But the point being made is still the same. The value and importance of hard work is something that all children should be taught; it is perhaps more pressing that children of the very wealthy learn these principles at an early age. Sting may not be leaving his children his earthly financial possessions but ironically, what he’s giving them is far more valuable. The lessons learned from his decision are beyond any price tag that even a man worth $30 million or more could afford.

Harsh? Perhaps. A lesson learned? Absolutely.

Do we owe our kids our money after we’re gone? No. What we owe them are the skills and abilities to navigate life successfully and (hopefully) happily. Money is not necessarily part of the equation.

To read this article on HUFFINGTON POST, click here: Sting is Right to Deny His Kids a Big Inheritance


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 Image courtesy of, photo credit: Kevin Mazur




I have a security blanket and it’s my land line.

Quaint, I know, but I just can’t seem to give it up. After all, I have young children at home and, well, you know - what if there’s an emergency?

Having grown up in the Jurassic Era, it just seems normal to have a land line - a phone that is not cellular, mobile or portable beyond a few steps past my front door. There’s security in knowing that no matter what, I can pick up that phone and dial whomever I need to contact whenever I need to contact them (not literally, of course - that would require a rotary component).

Having a phone that is physically tethered to our homes provides a sort of comfort; we know that in the event that we’ve forgotten to charge our mobile phones or we’ve had the unfortunate occurrence of losing our smart phones, we still have that backup that exists just a few steps beyond the front door.

We’ve always had a landline; why, then, would we give it up?

The answer to this question is being provided by a growing number of people - parents, in particular - who feel that our fiber-optic security blanket needs to be put out to pasture once and for all. These days, we’ve lived long enough with technology to feel comfortable with our smartphones as our “go-to” device of choice. A virtual one-stop shop, we can shop, text, take pictures and videos and - if we need to - call 911 if the need arises. Because of this, the idea of untethering ourselves from our “retro” phone seems like the obvious course of action.

Yet, there’s that nagging little voice in our heads that keeps asking us whether it’s the right thing to do. This voice seems to be concerned about a few things:

  • Effectiveness - Will our smartphones actually do the trick when we really need it to?
  • Cost - We think we’ll be saving money by cutting the ties with our landlines but will we really save money? After all, won’t we just be using our smartphones more often?
  • Fear - We’re afraid of the unknown: we’ve always had a landline; what would it be like to be without one? The mere thought terrifies us.
  • Comfort - Knowing that our cell phones are our only selection when it comes to making calls can make the  most hip and tech-savvy parent feeling somewhat uncomfortable.

As parents, there are certain mandatory items that we are obliged to provide our kids, in order for them to be safe and secure. They include obvious items like food, shelter and clothing. Perhaps not surprisingly, telephones - landlines, more specifically - are an important part of this parental toolbox. For any parent that has grown  up pre-internet age, the thought of not having a landline in the home is often met with great debate, consternation and fear.

Yet when most of us look at the reality of how much we really use our landline, it seems fairly obvious as to what we should do.

I’m not unlike many of my friends and colleagues who have a landline that is rarely used. Other than the increasingly annoying telemarketing calls that interrupt my evenings, the home phone rarely gets any use anymore. Most of my friends and family know that to reach me more readily, just text or call my cell. It’s as simple as that. As a result, the landline remains at home, like a relic from the past; a reminder of a distant and long forgotten time. Despite this fact, I haven’t given up my landline…yet. I know that I will; it’s just a matter of time. It’s an emotional connection more than a more practical or even logical one. When that time finally comes, I’ll send the landline off with a respectable farewell and will call my friends - from my cell phone - for some emotional support.

VIDEO: ELO - Telephone Line

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June Cleaver

I was back on Huffington Post Live, this time to discuss the myth of the “perfect parent.” As we all know, he or she doesn’t exist, so why is it that we feel that we still have to adhere to this impossible standard?

Watch the clip below and let me know what you think!

VIDEO: The Myth of the Perfect Parent on Huffington Post Live

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Kids jumping up

During the March Break, it’s really difficult to tear the kids away from the screen. As we continue to try to navigate the topic of Parenting in the Digital Age, we wonder how we can balance screen time and time spent outside, being physically active.

Many studies have emphasized the problem of childhood obesity and the need for kids to have less time glued to their electronic devices - one of the apparent causes for children who are over the ideal weight for their size. Watching TV, playing video games and fooling around on the iPad are probably not the best ways of getting kids active.

So how do we get our kids outside? What do we do to entice them away from their beloved gadgets for more physically - engaged activities? As March Break is the time of year that kids have a full week off, parents have the opportunity to make some choices for their children in terms of what they will do.

As part of an interview with CBC Radio’s Fresh Air Program, I was asked my opinion on the topic of getting kids active over the break.

You can listen to the full interview here.

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