feeding step kids who eat different at bio moms house - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 05-29-2006, 07:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i have some questions about feeding step children. i have two step kids, 6 and 9, that will be spending the summer with us as usual. we battle about this every time they are with us. they eat very differently at their moms house, meat, refined sugar, white flour, etc. and since we are vegan it is a very difficlult transition coming to our house. thier bio mom reciently had a talk with my partner, the kids dad, and said the kids feel uncomfortable at our house because of us being vegan. i definitely dont want them to be uncomfortable with us, but i am not willing to change my diatary habbits. is it wrong to expect them to? should we feed them what they are used to, what they like to eat? all they want to eat is chicken nuggets, pizza, waffles, chips, and french fries. a lot of times we feed them the vegan version of these foods, which they seem okay with, but i feel like i want them to get some nutrition, some veggies.
also, i think its challanging to answer the question they ask, "why are you vegan" w/o making them feel bad for eating meat. of course i would never ever ever imply that they are wrong for eating meat, so i just say that it isnt what we do in our house. and even though i think i am really good at being accepting of everybodys lifestyle choices (meat, vegan, etc), i still think they feel bad sometimes just because we dont do what they do. and what they like to do. they really like to eat meat and they like to eat sugar. they really like the food their mom makes. she makes white flour, sugar, cheese, and meat. and i dont feel goood about feeding only that stuff to children that i truly care about and want to be healthy. but i dont wantto be the mean step mom who makes them eat food that they hate. please help, what do you do?

i also wonder if we feed them different food than we eat, how it will be when our litle vegan one, 10 mo now, is older and she isnt aloud to eat what bro and sis are eating...
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#2 of 16 Old 05-29-2006, 07:19 PM
 
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We battle food issues too with a seriously picky dss and our dd who is a very adventerous eater. It is frustrating to fix a meal and have him turn up his nose at it before even trying it.

I know it's got to be hard for him too though b/c he's not used to being offered healthier options (and I'm trying to work on making our diet better for us). He's used to fast food and quick-fix meals, while I actually cook.

My tack for this summer is that I have a menu plan for bfast and dinner that I used with my childcare during the school year and will just continue to use it through the summer. I will fix it, he can eat it or his dad can make other arrangements. Likewise with dinner...I'm developing a menu and that's basically what I will make. There are a few "junk" food items in the house, but once they are gone I'm not getting anymore.

I'm not sure how it will work out, but I'm hoping for the best.

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#3 of 16 Old 05-29-2006, 08:40 PM
 
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We eat differently than my DSSs do at their house, but not quite as drastic as you are talking.

I think your idea of getting them vegan versions of some of their favorite foods, is a good idea.

There are many reasons people choose to be vegan, and I'm not sure what yours are, but maybe you could buy them raw/organic cheese or milk to help the transition, as these require no "prep" on your part. If you support a local farmer, you could actually see that the animals are being treated humanely etc.

If you know something they really like, be sure to make that when they are over.

Otherwise, I would give them a gentle reminder to be thankful for the food before them. (Not the whole, eat your dinner because there are starving children in africa, but more like be thankful that you have the blessing of eating regularly, and that your parent took time to prepare this meal with love for their family)

I dont know that I was much help, but it can be tough. I'm the bad mom that doesnt give my kids "enough sugar".

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Alyssa, wife to one, mama to 2 boys, 5.5 and 4. Living and learning on our little farm.
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#4 of 16 Old 05-29-2006, 11:13 PM
 
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I think you have to split the difference and find a middle course.

I think you would feel your life was totally turned upside down in a profoundly upsetting way if you were transported to her house and HAD to eat her food all the time.

That is how they feel at your house.

So find some middle ground, buy the "mimic" foods for your house AND buy them some of their own food too. Can you have meat cooked in your house? What about a BBQ? Then eat out if that isn't possible.

But offer them "regular" food (for them) at least once a week if not half the week.

I am a whole grain, organic, no corn syrup kind of gal and my kids never get candy or what not but my skids get prepared pastry stuff like twinkies and so forth (I will let my kids eat it too while skids are here so as not to create fights when they are older and ask) I can't bear to buy white bread for some reason but I will buy the wheat bread instead of 100% whole wheat.

I think the goal is to make them feel at home.

I consider this like other parenting things- it is more important to be consistent than to be right. Any legal parenting methed, if applied consistently and fairly with love is good for kids and won't do damage. Where as inconsistent, unloving or unpredictable parenting of any kind is damaging.

step life is naturally a bit inconsistent, and unpredictable. Try to make things as consistent as you can where ever you can.

I also try to find dishs that are my family's favs that can become the skid's favs too and we make them often when the skids are here-

some ideas I have for you might be (I am not vegan so forgive me if I mess this up)

how about tacos or taco salad with a prepared (and not too earthy a brand) vegitarian chili?

How about eggo waffles?

look for foods that are finger foods, mild in flavor- what about hummus dips night?

the point is to try to find somethings that you both can like that can be "family" dishes.

Don't try to make them vegan or they will actually go the other way on you.

If they ask why you choose to eat like you do just say "because I prefer it" and leave it be. Don't try to explain that until they are in hs or something.
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#5 of 16 Old 05-30-2006, 11:26 AM
 
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I agree with compromising wherever you can. Don't give up all your own values - kids in blended families learn that things are done differently in each house, which is not a bad thing. However, food is also a comfort thing, and it is understandable that they've developed certain tastes at their mom's house and can't be expected to morph into entirely different kids at your place. I know we have faced some of the same challenges, and have bought some stuff while my stepkids are with us that I might not otherwise go for: hot dogs, for example.

I would also suggest having them help you brainstorm a shopping list, with some guidance. "What's your favourite fruit?" "What about fruit leather?" "Have you ever made oven-baked french fries? Why don't we try it together?"

If you're at all ok with having dairy and some low-prep fish/meat products in the house for them, you may want to consider that as well. I'm vegetarian, but have been known to make a ham sandwich for my stepkid on occasion (without touching the meat, which is tricky! ). I know some of the things we let them have with us are not things I want my biological daughter to have (and she doesn't), but on the other hand they eat it already at their mom's, and having it once in a while at our place helps them transition more easily. We also try to expand their horizons by finding other things to eat at our place that they perhaps haven't tried very often before as well.
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#6 of 16 Old 05-30-2006, 08:09 PM
 
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We have a similar situation. My eldest two kids live with their dad 30%; my SS lives with his mom 50%. They eat loads of meat, dairy, and sugar at their other homes and we eat vegan/whole foods at our house. This can be hard for them, but I think that as we made it clear where and how we would compromise and where and how we would not, it got easier for them. We don't have or prepare animal products in our home, but from there we get more flexible. I don't try to get them to eat exotic foods (we eat those when they're not here), and I've paid attention to what they like (or can tolerate ) and make that stuff pretty often. Simple stuff goes over pretty well. Simple bean and grain dishes usually get eaten. Spaghetti is everybody's favorite and is easy to make vegan. We eat grilled soy cheese and tomato soup really often. Breakfast and lunch are easier. Peanut butter is a major staple. I'll admit that they don't eat as many veggies as I'd like them to. Like you, though, we have a younger child who is 100% vegan and we didn't want him to see his sibs getting stuff he doesn't eat. He's almost 4 and he'll eat his weight in green beans or carrots, and I just can't risk those great habits!

Can your DH enlist the support of the kids bio mom? If she would just say to them, when they complain, something like "Well, that's how dad and SM eat. You'll be OK.", it would probably go a long way toward getting their cooperation.

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#7 of 16 Old 05-30-2006, 09:09 PM
 
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What does your dh/dp think?

This isn't really an answer but I read a sm's story about how their (shared) children and her children ate certain things and his children (sm's skids) ate very other certain foods, to the point (I found this extreme but it worked for her) that they had two refrigerators in the house, etc.

My ss7 'requires' (yes, we get 'told on' and the bm and ss's therapist bring us into the next therapy meeting to correct this) cheeseburgers and french fries, sour pickles and crunchy carrots every weekend he is with us. I've done my best to alter: organic beef/cheese, whole grain buns, oven-baked ff, etc. and dream that one day, our children will actually request more healthy, even non-meat meals while sitting at the same table as the ss. And this is with support from my dh. He's fine if one day ss is over, requesting his regular meal and our kids request pasta with spicy red sauce or a veggie stir fry, that we all eat the same table. Support from my dh helps me not dread future meals of eowe cheeseburgers.

Good luck with this!
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#8 of 16 Old 05-31-2006, 03:04 AM
 
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I'd give them a straight answer to the question "why are you vegan"- like "because I feel uncomfortable with eating meat." At some point, children are going to start thinking about the morality of food, and I don't see that 9 is too young: I was vegetarian/vegan from 8 onwards, solely by my choice.
I'd also get them into the kitchen: children of that age could prepare beanburgers from scratch and serve them to the rest of the house. They could make a loaf of wholegrain bread (and from bread comes pizza.) When in doubt, faced with a picky eater, make them cook.

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#9 of 16 Old 06-01-2006, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for all your responses. yes, on further reflection its clear that how skids feel with us and in our house is more important than the food they eat. my relationship with them has to be top priority. i definitely dont want them to feel uncomfortable with me. oh, but its hard. i dont see how i could feed them meat. i was raised veg, never eaten meat, and have been vegan for many many years. i believe that meat is murder and dairy is contributing to the torture of innocent beings. not to mention the health reasons that i believe to be very real. i like the ideas about getting them involved in the kitchen. we already do lots of the simple veg foods like spegetti, p band j, potatoes, etc... its just not as nutritious ans id like but i guess its not all that bad. i feel more positive about it now than i did. we will see how it goes.

"it is more important to be consistent than to be right. Any legal parenting methed, if applied consistently and fairly with love is good for kids and won't do damage. Where as inconsistent, unloving or unpredictable parenting of any kind is damaging."
im not trying to be testy, but do you really think that being consistent is the most important thing? it seems to me that being consistent is important, but consistently spanking your kids, legal as it is, could never in my book be beneficial. seemsl ike being consistent in flexibility and ability to recognize ones own mistakes is crucial. and not being attached to being 'right' but still consistently striving to fing the best answer, the most right answer, for your family is important. just my thoughts.
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#10 of 16 Old 06-01-2006, 09:46 PM
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Could you just broach it with them directly and engage them in a search for vegan food that THEY like? I'm not vegan or vegetarian, and when I've had the vegan/vegetarian "versions" of non-vegan foods, they just aren't right. That's not to say vegan/vegetarian foods are unpalatable, just that the "fakes" aren't all that great.

I think it's entirely reasonable to continue to hold strong and stick to the vegan diet with the step-kids -- but get them to explore with you and find stuff that they like to eat that fits with your ethical restrictions.
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#11 of 16 Old 06-01-2006, 10:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crystalsun

"it is more important to be consistent than to be right. Any legal parenting methed, if applied consistently and fairly with love is good for kids and won't do damage. Where as inconsistent, unloving or unpredictable parenting of any kind is damaging."
im not trying to be testy, but do you really think that being consistent is the most important thing? it seems to me that being consistent is important, but consistently spanking your kids, legal as it is, could never in my book be beneficial. seemsl ike being consistent in flexibility and ability to recognize ones own mistakes is crucial. and not being attached to being 'right' but still consistently striving to fing the best answer, the most right answer, for your family is important. just my thoughts.
I agree with you that it is important to continue to grow as a parent. That to me isn't the issue of consistency.

As to your spanking question- let me say I am personally anti spanking and when I reply I am talking about true spanking only - not abusive hitting- while I know that I personally feel any striking is abusive I am refering here to legally abusive if you can follow my drift?

Now to your question-

I think that a parent who is inconsistent but never spanks but say sometimes diciplines for a behavior, other times lets it slide and then other times freaks out instantly and while not hitting yells and puts them into an extrodinary long time out is very bad. More bad than say a parent who has clearly outlined issues that lead to a spank- say running into the street or whatever and who calmly and fairly and consistently responds to an infraction in a predictable and consistent way. A parent like that would not HAVE to spank often since the children know with certainty what would happen. Just like parents who consistenly do any dicipline notice that they don't have to do it often so long as they do it consistently.

I think that kids can learn from any legal method of parenting but they can't learn from inconsistent parenting that is on some days and off on others. It feels unsafe and scary and unpredictable. They can't learn the rules since there aren't consistent rules. They test and the rules are different each day. that is horribly unfair and very frightening for a child- more so then a consistently and well understood spanking.
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#12 of 16 Old 06-02-2006, 10:11 AM
 
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To the OP, do you have an open relationship with the BioM? (Not palsy Walsy necessarily, but open?) I am not saying this is necessarily the case but with us, I am on the other end, kind of. My kids go to their dad's and his gf house for standard vis, and we are Uber Healthy. Not veg, but lots of organic fruits/veggies. Whole grains, organic meats, low dairy. We cook together alot, low on the sweets, hardly any sugar etc.

(Disclaimer!!! I am NOT saying I think you are like this!)
Exh and his gf truly believed (brought it up in counseling) that we only let the kids eat macaroni and cheese and quesadillas, because that is what the kids want to eat when they are there. In counselling, one of their major points was "she gives the kids bad nutrition" because they don't communicate with me.

My point is this I guess. There is a possibility, if you and Bio mom don't communicate, that even though she cooks totally different than you, there is the understanding of kids eating what is prepared, you know? I am not making sense like I want to. Arggh. Do you get what I am saying at all?

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#13 of 16 Old 06-12-2006, 07:19 PM
 
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I agree that the relationship with the kids, and them feeling comfortable is more important than nutrition, especially for a short period of time. I'm a lot more "natural" and crunchy than the biomom, or even dh as a single dad, but I realize how important ds's disgusting, favorite frozen pizza is to him. He'll eat my version too, but it isn't the same to him. It has been hard to now have my own ds, who I never imagined feeding such yucky things to, but his relationship with his half brother is more important than a frozen pizza, so they do share this treat together once in a while. I think stepparenting and blended families means we have less control/input over our children as they have more influences from ex's and halves and steps. But it's ok. I just have to "let it all go" more often than I thought I would. He's fine and a little, occasionally junk food with his bro isn't hurting him.
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#14 of 16 Old 06-13-2006, 10:52 AM
 
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We are not vegan mama but face alot of the same issues with what sd eats at her moms.....mostly refined foods...LOTS of sugar.....(ie..a whole wheat bagel with some cream cheese...SMOTHERED...in cake sprinkles...mmmyummy...*stomach turning*)

To get her to at least eat the veggies, we get some juice that she likes, and some fruits.......watermelon, canaloupe, and some veggies.....broccoli, carrots, beets and we blend it into a drink.....and juice everything togeterh and she loves it and is none the wiser....We hate being sneaky about it but it's the only way she will eat the veggies (doesn't know they are there) and she loves the homemade smoothies....

We use the magic bullet blender thing from tv....you can get one at Kohls alot cheaper though....

GL mama
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#15 of 16 Old 08-05-2006, 05:09 PM
 
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i'm vegan but DH isn't and DSS isn't either, so that makes it "easier" in my family (though really, don't i wish DH was vegan and life a bit more difficult - yES!). DH knows my major dietary pet peeves though (too much junk, too much mcdonalds, etc) and he does alter things a bit to make me feel less ill . . .

in any case, i've spoken to DSS a bit about why i don't eat animals or animal products, and seriously, i just don't think he gets it at all (he's 9), so at least i don't have to worry about making him feel bad about his choices.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world" - Gandhi
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#16 of 16 Old 08-07-2006, 06:23 PM
 
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My stepkiddo eats different at her mommas house too. Over there it is sodas and candy and ordering pizza most nights. With me and her dad, its all organic food and well baklanced meals of her choosing. I think the success we have had lies in the fact that we let her choose so much. We all go the the grocery store together (Whole Foods) and we let her pick out things she would like in her lunches and for other meals and snacks. She really enjoys this and generally will make pretty good choices. We just limit the sweets. She still loves stuff like Gushers but we find options like this stuff called fruit leather that works in its place. Instead of the sodas like Diet Coke, I let her choose Izze sodas or an interesting freshly squeezed raw juice. I also get her involved in preparing meals when she wants. She opts to almost everytime I suggest it, and then she eats her dinner without complaint becasue she created it.
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