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Choosing to live with not very much of anything. - Page 4

post #61 of 155
Originally Posted by newmum35 View Post
I am so surprised to read all the posts. Nobody here sees a potential problem here?? I am concerned for the kids. It does sound like the kids are deprived to me. "they are ravenous for everything, including food" sounds like deprivation. THe food part would concern me the most (are they being abused? is food being withheld?) but their minds need stimulation too. Are they bored at home? What is an average day like? What do they do? Do they ever get punished and if so, what happens? Are you close enough to the kids that you could ask these last few questions?

I've had kids stay at my house and none of them act like this - we are usually so busy having fun and playing games that none of them ever ask for snacks, sometimes I worry that they didn't eat enough during "meals" when here that they might go home hungry, because kids do need snacks too, especially if they didn't eat a lot during mealtime.

I did read one of the posts where the parent returned a bag of pistachios and cheese sticks... seriously?!?! WTH is up with that?? Why did she have a problem with this , I can't for the life of me figure that one out, unless this child is being abused. We often send snacks and food and even little toys home with kids (they are relatives I'm referring to, but I can't really see the difference between friends either) and nobody EVER has a problem with it.. we probably do this because it was done for us when WE were kids... we would visit my grandma, and she'd always send us home with some of her healthy food from the garden, snacks or leftovers she prepared for us there... it was always much appreciated, a gracious gift, and we thought of her later at home and the next day because of it. Sharing your food with others is a GOOD THING, not something to be considered "rude" or implying some evil message that the parents aren't doing a good job!... its a gracious gift and you're supposed to be happy and accept it. If you don't like the gift given, you never return it and hurt their feelings!!

I think that was very rude of them to return the bag of treats you sent over - I understand they do not have computer or tv (I don't have an issue with) - but, do they have no manners too? That is unbelievable.

This sentence here really haunts me: "ONe of the children in particular though seems more ravenous, like she will actually take food out of someone elses hands to eat their food and will eat, eat, eat anything that is given and ask for more continouusly"

Are you sure she's not being abused? Is food ever withheld from her as a punishment? Does she have "rations" or is she allowed to eat as much as she wants at mealtimes?

IT sounds to me like she's being physically abused (doesn't necessarily have to be intentionally) by NOT getting enough to eat. OF course, it is also possible she has a medical disorder, and she IS getting enough to eat at home, but a medical condition is causing her to act this way. Someone mentioned an eating disorder, but perhaps even a nutritional deficiency of something that is not yet recognized. Like if she's deficient in something in her diet, her body may seek to get it by increasing her appetite, hoping the next thing she eats will fulfill her need! I hope she's been to the doctor for a checkup.

I think you should follow your intuitions on this one, and make sure there is nothing deeper going on that you are not aware of. ON a more positive note, perhaps if there were serious abuse going on, the mother would never let the child to your house to eat to her fill (which I sincerely hope she gets to!! - if this parent has given you ANY sort of food instructions or 'rationing' for the children, that would be setting off red flags for me.)

I don't have problem with limiting computer, tv, or toys, but let the child eat for god sake, WHAT is this mother's problem!?! Why in the world would she say "you can take this home we won't eat it" when the kids were just asking to eat it! The kids are old enough to be out of choking hazard risk (I can understand if they were toddlers, her having a problem with nuts), these are both healthy snacks, I just don't get it
I tend to agree with a lot of this. I used to send snacks home with visiting kids and never got a reaction like this. Grabbing food out of a person's hand to get more is either super bad behvioral issues (stemming from what?....) or just plain hunger. Either way something is up either internally with the child or at home.
I went hungry at home often and I can tell you no matter how hungry I was I never acted like that, nor have I seen other hungry kids act that way-and I grew up out in the woods and there was a lot of poverty. I've seen it as many people here have. I don't think it is a bad idea to address it in some fashion.

The child mentioned acts deprived. There is a difference between just being a kid with bad manners and acting out of deprivation. I think there's a line being crossed here.

I don't know that this is a judgment issue, but a concern.
post #62 of 155
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
gaming system, drink soda, watch ...
I know I am preaching to the choir here, but soda, unlimited TV, and unlimited access to gaming systems are not just optional "lifestyle choices" but are actively harmful to the child. Tooth decay from the soda, increased risk for ADHD with unlimited screen time and exposure to violence from many video games.

Sure, my kid gets soda and TV, but in moderation. I could not live without a computer , but I understand that others could.

I think boundaries are the way to go with the kids you mentioned - as others have said.
post #63 of 155
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
we do not have a stereo system. we have a cheap little boom box.....big difference, still something to play music on. i can also play radio, CDs, and my MP3 player on my computer.
i live for walks with my MP3 player
post #64 of 155
Originally Posted by AverysMomma View Post

We have friends and relatives who, when we visit, will send us home with special treats from the garden or some special cookies they made..THAT is sharing food. The OP CLEARLY thinks these people aren't feeding their kids enough and is puzzled at the way they live and is probably sending off that vibe pretty strongly....THEN she's trying to send them home with little baggies of snack food...NOT some cookies they made while the kids were at her house, NOT something from their garden.
Ok great. She can put it to the test by baking a batch of cookies with the kids next time they visit and see how it goes over with the mom when she sends some home with them. If she has a problem with pistachios and cheese, I can't imagine how berserk she will go over cookies.

Originally Posted by AverysMomma View Post

I think you're way off base with your "abuse" comments....honestly, the OP already said that these people are not abusive, unkind, etc...that they are good and loving parents. I'd be willing to bet the farm they aren't "withholding food for punishment" - come on! Come ON!!

I sincerely hope you are correct and that intentional abuse is not even a factor. Coming from someone who has been there before, I trust your judgement on this and will assume that you are probably right. I can see the truth in a lot of what you are saying and appreciate your input. (You're right - I was never abused as a kid.) I do disagree with one thing, when you say someone who is being abused would never take food from someone else...

I think that true hunger may cause a child to do things they wouldn't normally do. I recall reading "A Child Called It" about 5 or 6 years ago... the guy who wrote it was abused as a child and this was his story, an autobiography and it was considered one of the worst abuse cases.. I remember reading of how he would steal food in school, until one day he got caught. Unfortunately the teacher told his mom on him (assuming he was just being a bad kid, and never suspected he was actually starving, of course). I do know what you mean, and agree that families like this try to keep up appearances to "fit in" and not stand out. But I wouldn't say that they are so good at it that there never are any signs... sooner or later someone's going to notice that something isn't right. But the fact that they may not recognize the sign for what it is (in this case assuming this was a behavorial issue and not an abuse issue) is worrisome.

You also contradict yourself a bit when you say "the OP already said that these people are not abusive, unkind, etc...that they are good and loving parents." because down below that you acknowledged that parents who really WERE abusers would "keep up the image that everything is okay at home" ... therefore: do you really think that if there was any kind of abuse going on, that the parents would EVER knowingly show that side of themselves to the OP? They would try to appear to be good and loving parents, right? Also it could be just one parent who is abusive - the other may not even be aware or may choose to "not see." (as was in the case of the mentioned book)

I probably placed too much emphasis on the abuse angle, as the possibility bothered me the most. I think it should be ruled out if possible. I still feel something is wrong.

Maybe unknowingly, there is something missing from their diet that is causing these insatiable cravings. It just sounds too bizarre to me to be considered "normal." If it happened once or twice, fine. No big deal. Kids are kids. But the OP has stated the kids spend a significant amount of time at her house - "whenever the children come to my house (which is a lot)" - and they ALWAYS ACT this way. Always. The girl's behavior especially seemed troubling to me.

It is thought that "pica" for example (a desire to eat non-food items like chalk, clay or dirt) may be caused by nutritional deficiencies (iron or zinc) that trigger specific cravings. I don't think its out of the question that the kids or the girl especially could be having these food cravings for specific physiological reasons. I don't think she's simply being a "bad" kid, a "normal" kid, or whatever.

This alone would give me pause for concern, but add to that the fact that her mother refused to accept a small bag of nuts and cheese for the kids to eat, and I'm quite troubled by it. Do you think maybe they are vegetarians and the fact that cheese was included, could have offended her?

It is the mothers attitude combined with the childrens behaviors that is most troubling, and started my mind wandering to the possibility of abuse, or at the very least, unintentional nutritional neglect.
post #65 of 155
I think it's very normal for kids to go bonkers over other people's food and toys. I do talk with my own children about waiting until foods are offered in other homes, and asking before playing with others' stuff. Because I know what others mean about the unfamiliar stuff always being more interesting.

Now that my oldest goes to some longer playdates, I've let her know that if she's hungry and they're not offering, it's okay to ask the hostess for a snack.

I told her this after she spent the night at a friend's house and came home saying she got so hungry the next day (she got invited to stay the whole day, and said yes), but no one else was asking for food and nothing had been offered since breakfast. The hostess had said they could snack on leftover birthday cake but dd wasn't hungry for more of that after one slice.

Anyhow, some of our friends only have certain times when the kitchen is "open," and at other times food is not available, whereas our kitchen is always open. Just as this has necessitated me preparing my oldest when she's gone to visit in friends' homes for more than a 2-3 hours, so it has necessitated me learning that for kids who are used to a closed kitchen, our house can seem like a big free-for-all.

This hasn't really come up lately, but we used to have some friends who were rather strict as to what and when their children were allowed to eat, and it just seemed like every second they were in our home, they were telling me they were hungry again, or asking our oldest to show them what food we had in our pantry.

It even irritated our daughter. And when the mom shared how sometimes she'd have a special treat set aside for herself and it would disappear and no one would admit to eating it, I just knew that this family had a different mentality. It's never occurred to our kids to do anything like that, because we don't have "special treats" that aren't available to them. If they want something they see us eating, they ask and we share or get them their own.

But the way I worked it out when these kids came to visit, was that beforehand I'd prepare a snack-table and when they got there I'd just say, Here's what's available for whenever you get hungry. They would still sometimes ask dd to show them the pantry, but they gradually got used to just getting a snack from the table and going back to playing.
post #66 of 155
Originally Posted by aspenleaves View Post

I don't feel I am close enough to say anything and don't know if I would anyway. It is really none of my business that these folks are choosing how to raise their family, but I guess I wondered why they are choosing it? Are there certain values inherent in living a monastic life as a child? Why wouldn't you at least earn some $$$ so you can fix enough food? they are all terribly thin.
Have you actually seen them not fix enough food? The thinnest person I know eats like a... well I was gonna say horse, but in all honesty she eats more then that. She's all ways been thin and always been a huge eater.

I really don't see any evidence they are doing anything other then living a simple life. Which is what we at least try to do in this house. I mean a lot of our stuff is old and "out of date" for no other reason then we believe that if it ain't broke don't fix it. We don't have a huge amount of toys. We have one TV, we have one car (no use having two since I don't drive), we don't spend $800 a month on food and eat just fine.

Some people, children included thrive on a minimalistic life. Not everyone needs all the newest gadgets to be happy.

Actually we've been half heartedly looking for a house to buy (we rent right now) but honestly have no interest in what is out on the market right now because they are all so... huge with a myraid of rooms that are unnessicary.
post #67 of 155
Originally Posted by aprons_and_acorns View Post
LOL, that reminds me of my house growing up. My friends used to say, "You guys never have any food, you just have . . . ingredients."

I enjoyed reading your post btw. Interesting food for thought.
DD had a friend say that to her once.

DD's responce was "We have food there's just... some assembly required."
post #68 of 155
The dealbreaker in the OP's situation for me would be that the kids are coming over and eating their heads off.

When I was a kid, even a teenager really, and I was going to a friends house on a playdate or study session, Mom always made sure to send enough snacks for everyone along. She calls it omiyage.
post #69 of 155
Why wouldn't you at least earn some $$$ so you can fix enough food? they are all terribly thin
Just because a little kid eats a lot when they come to your house and they are skinny doesn't mean they don't get enough food at home. I was always super skinny and ate a lot. People always assumed I didn't eat very much and constantly told me I was anorexic and needed to eat more none of which was true. Those people constantly commenting on it took my confidence away. Just because the kids are skinny and eat a lot when they come over doesn't mean that they don't have enough food for their kids. You can't assume. Maybe they don't and maybe they do. Nothing is wrong with living without a lot of stuff. Stuff comes at a cost and I don't mean money.
post #70 of 155
Thread Starter 
Okay, okay so I have reflected more closely all the reasons I have posted here on this thread. What I have come up with is this. I don't think the parents are abusers. From what I have experienced and witnessed I think they are super, super minimalists. It surprises me how minimal someone would choose to live. I am all for a simple life but am far, far away from this super minimal stuff.... no tv - okay, not many toys - hmmmm I don't know, no computer - not so much. Anyway, I think all of this is fine and I just have to respect their way of life and try not to judge too much. I find I admire this mom's calm way of being and she seems to be very grounded and thinks about what she says.

The food thing, well my way of doing things is to offer and supply a myriad of choices at meal times and to have food for grazing at different times during the day. My DH says I offer too much food and that is why we have a picky eater, and I say it is becasue my DH offers too many 'sweet' things and that has tainted my DD's ability to choose properly. Either way I think these folks don't offer choices and don't have a lot of food available at non meal times. This I don't understand and have sought the advice of other moms (you). I don't think food is withheld for punishment or anything of the sort. I think these kids are given food and are expected to eat it and then don't have food available to them until the next meal (or maybe snack).

As for the pistachios and cheese I have no idea. What happened was that I brought these items along in my dd's snack bag as I dropped her off for a playdate at this moms house - enough for all the children. They played at that house, walked 5 blocks to the park, played there, walked 5 blocks back and then had lunch. When I picked my dd up I was handed the items for return (I figured they ate other snacks maybe) but I noticed that the food was hidden from view with a newspaper. when the mom handed the items back to me the middle child grabbed the cheese and started eating it. When the mom handed me the rest the child motioned that she wanted it and the mom said, no you can have the one your eating. And when I said she could keep it for later if she wanted the mom said no. I don't understand this... maybe because the cheese was pasturized? it was organic....

I suppose that I can inquire a little more as to what the kids are allowed and not.... although I think if there were any dietary concerns I would know by now. Maybe it was just a wierd day, or a wierd interpretation. I put the ravenous behavior and the wierd snack issue together and felt like I needed others perspective to see clear....

I think I need to work on my own comfort boundaries with children at my house and I need to work on asking simple questions with out judgement, like what can your kids eat? and how much? valid questions that maybe I was afraid to ask because of my preconseeved notions.... that may be incorrect.

Thank you mama's for hanging in here with me.
post #71 of 155
You mentioned previously that you don't feel really close to them. If they feel the same way then they may just prefer to not share non-seriouse food restrictions. Dairy is an iffy food item and one I personally wouldn't choose to offer as a snack since it can cause tummy trouble with out being inherently dangerous. DH can only eat so much dairy per day. Anymore and it causes GI problems.

Anyway, talking to the mom about it is probably a good idea.
post #72 of 155
you know weight is not a good measure about nutrition.

instead seeing how healthy they look is the key. not the thin or fat part. i know a few thin people who eat like horses and some fat who eat v. little. genetics.

look at the quality of their skin, hair, nails.

i can also understand the mom's refusal to accept the food that is not being offered. i am trying to get my 7 year old to understand social manners. she should wait till she is offered, not ask for it immediately. of course with close family and friends, what she does does not matter. but its embarrasing when she wants more and more food. i could offer her the same apple at home that she refuses but she will eat her friends 5 mins later saying, i havent eatn an apple for weeks. :

i am an anthropology major and i am fascinated with the exact thing you write about.

just because you dont understand it, just because its not your way - does that make their way 'bad' (i know you are not calling it bad).

you know we speak a lot thru nonverbal speech. by our body language and attitude. sending snacks over could be seen as handouts and an insult. that just because you send it, they should accept it.

i do want to add with everyone else that apart from grabbing food all the behaviour that stands out for you - my dd has done that. been ravenous at other's houses. said she didnt eat lunch, when she had forgotten. or considered pizza as snack and was awaiting lunch. i remember one time she got up late and so had lunch. i remember her telling my friend she hadnt eaten any breakfast.

i am glad you have posted here and decided to explore your reactions.

only you can decide and see if there is something there to report or is it a way of defining prejudice for you.
post #73 of 155
Re the cheese, I think maybe the mom is really sensitive to the idea that you may be trying to give her kids "charity" and wants to prove that she doesn't need your extra food. I have a friend whom I know to be struggling, and it's been a balancing act--I am trying to give her some things (which she needs) without her feeling embarrassed or like a charity case. I can tell it's hard for her. I could see her refusing things just for the sake of pride.
post #74 of 155
We don't offer food at non-mealtimes either. A number of studies have shown that offering unlimited food at set snack- and mealtimes, and no food at non-mealtimes, tends to end up with the best nutritional results for children. Google "Ellyn Satter" for more information on this. That is completely different from not having enough food ever. My DS is a solid little linebacker, and we've always had set meal times and snack times. Now I'm not too much of a hard head about it because he's only 2 and can't tell time; if he wants lunch half an hour early, he can have it. Once he can tell time, though, I will ask him to wait and eat with the family.

ETA: The "no choices" thing is also recommended by Ellyn Satter, by the way. Obviously if the rest of the family is eating something that would be a choking hazard for a toddler, they should have something different; and there should always be at least one part of the meal that the children are likely to tolerate; but short-order cooking has been shown to lead to picky eating. There are worse things on earth than picky eating, for sure, so if you choose to offer choices, no food police will come to arrest you; but it sounds to me as though this mother is deliberately making an effort to prevent picky eating, and her choices in that regard are entirely within the mainstream-to-crunchy spectrum.
post #75 of 155
Either way I think these folks don't offer choices and don't have a lot of food available at non meal times. This I don't understand and have sought the advice of other moms (you).
this is the way I am. Letting kids graze all day seems like a horrible way to feed a child or eat for yourself to me. But to each his own. Grazing would never work in our house. I would feel like a neglectful mother. Never having real meals and just letting them snack all day. And honestly I think your dh has a point. When I put a meal on the table they need to eat it then. they get a small snack after school (no between meal snacks on their days off since we eat meals at more reasonably spaced times) and then supper and that is it. If I let them graze they would eat all day and mostly snacky crap. not nutritious stuff and they would certainly not eat their beans and rice at supper but just because they don't ascribe to the same eating philosophy as your family does not mean they are treating their children poorly or starving them.

Also we do not eat cheese. It is not a food allergy thing but I think cheese is addictive and has a drug like effect on kids (its the casin....) I consider it a treat but not at all healthy. I would have sent it home with you. Also I doubt my kids would eat pistachios. Only one of them eats string cheese (well high end smoked string cheese from the co-op but not the stuff you get from kraft or whatever. they HATE it. after I gave it up and went back to it I realized I thought it was gross too.) maybe these just aren't foods they liked or valued and they just would not have eaten them. Maybe she made a special snack for the play date. I have a friend who always thought she was being hospitible by sending food when her kid came over to play. it drove me nuts. i had special snacks planned already and now her kid wanted to share what she had brought and we did not have time or it wasn't convinient etc and now I have a plate of cookies and the last thing we need is more junk food in the house....

honestly the more I think about you seem really focused with having a lot of things (be it food or toys) and giving your children a lot of things to choose from. Some people could see this as bad and unhealthy just as you see this family and their simple life as bad and potentially unhealthy.
post #76 of 155
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
honestly the more I think about you seem really focused with having a lot of things (be it food or toys) and giving your children a lot of things to choose from. Some people could see this as bad and unhealthy just as you see this family and their simple life as bad and potentially unhealthy.
Right-- now, IMO, both your and your neighbor's lifestyles are well within the range of "perfectly fine." And it might also have something to do with the personalities of your children. Some children love to have lots of choices. Other children get overwhelmed by too many choices.
post #77 of 155
After going through all four pages, I think I read this a bit differently than most. OP, I get that the kids' behavior bothers you, and I think that's valid. When I was a kid, we had friends whose other friends lived and behaved in a way that was very similar to the kids you describe, and our friends were embarrassed when their friends came over and whined for sugary food and wanted to watch tv all the time. They didn't really want to play with them much because it wasn't fun to be around. And I'm sure that these kids were not abused or denied at all.

Another thing only mentioned by one other poster is that deprivation (not abuse, not even serious deprivation) can have long lasting psychological implications for the kids. I'm thinking of the poster who ate two candy bars a day once she left home because she could. Something similar happened to me. When I was young, my parents were wiped out financially by a plumbing problem, and after that my dad decided that we had to ration water to prevent further problems. Each kid was assigned particular days that we could bathe, and how long we could be in the shower. Not abuse, not deprivation, but a lifestyle choice dictated by my parents. Well, for a long time after I left home I took two long showers a day because I COULD. My sister did the same thing. We weren't abused, but we were deprived, and it did cause atypical behavoir.

Just some things to think about. I know MDC is a very pro-simple living community, and in my own life I have tried to simplify as well, and we limit sweet snacks, processed food, etc., but I'm amazed by the number of posters who seem to feel judged by the OP's honest reactions to someone else's lifestyle and its impact on her family.
post #78 of 155
But pp, one short shower every other day and two long showers every day, are both within the realm of normal in our society. That's not really extreme. Extreme would be if you left the shower running all day!
post #79 of 155
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
But pp, one short shower every other day and two long showers every day, are both within the realm of normal in our society. That's not really extreme. Extreme would be if you left the shower running all day!
Point taken. So where does this leave the little girl who takes food from others? Is that on the "normal" spectrum?

OP, I forgot to add, I assume this family bothers you because their kids' behavior is affecting you in a negative way. Probably it's more about the behavior than the lifestyle.
post #80 of 155
Originally Posted by newmum35 View Post
I did read one of the posts where the parent returned a bag of pistachios and cheese sticks... seriously?!?! WTH is up with that?? Why did she have a problem with this , I can't for the life of me figure that one out, unless this child is being abused.
I think it's a giant leap from "they returned a bag of snacks" to "these kids are being abused." In my case, my dd has severe food allergies--we don't allow nuts in the house, and I probably wouldn't allow her to eat cheese that had been in a bag with the nuts--who knows if the mom transferred residue to the wrappers of the cheese sticks which could then get on hands or in mouths. You have no way of knowing if the parents are on special diets or have allergies and simply don't like having outside food in the home. Perhaps the mom felt judged by the OP (for reasons I don't fully understand, the OP seems to be really struggling with her friends' lifestyle choices--maybe the other mom was picking up on that), and returned the food for that reason. Perhaps her kids had gorged on cheese and nuts the day before and she simply wanted them to eat something different that day.

My point is: because of dd's allergies, we turn down food ALL. THE. TIME. Even food that someone has made "allergen-free," because they don't know her allergies like we do, we don't know what kind of cross-contamination might be going on in their kitchen, etc. With people we know, we of course tell them about dd's allergies, but you know what? Sometimes it's just easier to turn down that lollipop than to spend ten minutes explaining and poring over the label. You have no idea why the mom turned down the food. That doesn't mean she's abusing her kids.
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