Yes, You Can Say No When Someone Tries to Give Your Kid Candy

I remember being so embarrassed as a child as I listened to my mother have a very awkward "talk" with my fourth grade teacher about how she felt it was totally inappropriate for the children to be rewarded with ice cream in class.

You guessed it. I have officially become my mother.

Everywhere I go there is candy for my kids.

Everywhere -- for real. Offices, church, school, parties, grocery stores -- it's like the legal and well advertised drug of choice for Americans.

I know what you're thinking,

"Sarah, I know how much you like Ben & Jerry's Caramel Core ice cream, super dark mint chocolate and Good & Plenty. You are part of the problem!"

You would be right. I am part of the problem.

I make an amazing Texas Sheet Cake that is pretty much life changing, and which my daughter recently informed me represents our family food.

I'm not saying I don't have issues. I do.

But seriously -- why are my kids offered junk food everywhere they go? There are really only two ways to handle this situation:
  1. Let them eat it and know, in a few years, that it is pretty much my fault when they are all victims of type 2 diabetes.
  2. Say no and be the bad guy -- and apparently the only parent on the planet who does this. This usually results in crying, possibly sneaking of junk food and then lying about it. I'm raising little angels. It's a good feeling.
Halloween is on the horizon. There are buckets and buckets of candy everywhere I look. I understand the idea of sugar as a "sometimes" food. But let's be real: there is ALWAYS some occasion that merits treats. Holidays come constantly, birthdays are everywhere, and there is always a hand out stretched with a sweet-flavored tempting treat.

I have to say, I really struggle with this. I don't love saying no and I don't want to offend people by turning down something kind they are offering. It just seems rude.

In reality though, our children don't need to eat so much junk, it isn't good for them. It hurts their health, and that isn't just my inner placenta-eating hippie talking right now -- it's true!

Candy, Candy, Everywhere - No, The Kids Can't Have Any!

Giving kids constant treats gets their palate used to, and expecting of, sweet food. I also think it makes them feel kind of junky -- so much so that they forget what real health actually feels like.

Is sugar addictive? I tend to think so. Does it lead to disease? Absolutely. You could probably make a case that it can contribute to most everything bad from our resilience to the common cold to a tendency for mood disorders, even diabetes and cancer.

We don't need it. Our kids need even less of it.

Yet, everywhere I go, my children are offered candy and junk. Yes, sometimes I am the one doing the offering but that's my prerogative, is it not?

Here are a few thought processes that we can switch up, to help curb the constant sugar:

We don't need to always give children something
I know that many of us find gifting to be the way we show love. You have to respect and honor the love language of those around us. But truth be told, constant giving of junk doesn't really show love. It gives us a quick moment of pleasure but a lifetime of it adds up to countless problems.

Children can go to school, go to a party, go to an event, leave with NOTHING in their hands and still find joy in the experience. The constant influx of stuff (not just sweets) is incredibly overwhelming. It's so common that I struggle not feeling guilty if I have a birthday party and don't send everyone home with something. But who really needs more pieces of candy or little plastic bobbles?

Why can't the experience of having fun and being with friends be ENOUGH? Why are we teaching our children than food and things equals love?

Candy, Candy, Everywhere - No, The Kids Can't Have Any!

We are not awful for saying no

One of the big barriers for me in refusing this kind of stuff is that I don't want to say no. I don't want to offend anyone, I don't want to hurt feelings and I am not excited about my children freaking out about not getting candy while all their friends get it.

You know what though? There's nothing offensive in turning down something that isn't good for you. There is also a lot of value in teaching children that sometimes we have to say no to an immediate pleasure in order to achieve a larger, and greater lifetime goal.

I am pretty sure I am not the only mother struggling to raise healthy kids in an unhealthy world. Yes, I struggle with my own self control, too. Yes, I am part of the problem, sometimes.

Despite this, I must believe that we can make a difference if more of us politely decline, and teach our children to do the same, when it comes to the constant influx of sweets and treats.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Photo credit: Ashley Linh Trann ♥ via Foter.com / CC BY, RebeccaVC1 via Foter.com / CC BY-ND, Michael Stern via Foter.com / CC BY-SA