Any parent will tell you how difficult parenting is. It is the most difficult, frustrating, humbling and stressful task anyone takes on. Just when you think you have something figured out, your theory, belief, or plan all of a sudden no longer works. This constant uncertainty coupled with the list of should's and should not's make parenting that much more difficult.
Meals tend to be a focus for most parents, as it is the cornerstone to ensuring your kid is healthy. In the process of trying to ensure our kid(s) are meeting their requirements, we put such unreasonable expectations on them which when you think about it, are not reasonable.
Unreasonable expectation #1. Kids need to eat well at every meal.
Kids grow at an incredible rate, which is unpredictable. Kids are not like a car with a gas tank where it is obvious when you need to top up the tank. They are organic beings which grow in an unpredictable way and rate. The expectation of consumption usually is because of the medical guidelines, which are just that guidelines. They are developed using averages of thousands of kids – not just one, so expecting a kid to follow the guidelines every meal is not reasonable. In other words, if your kid misses a meal or two, relax, its not time to panic. It may be caused by less activity that day, a huge meal earlier, slower growth period, teething, illness or some other unknown, unexplainable reason.
Unreasonable expectation #2. Parents think they know what their kids will eat.
Parents have the right to give their kid(s) the foods they want to, as it is their responsibility to bring up the kid. It is a position of ultimate control, however I challenge parents to try to include your kid in decisions sometimes as s/he may be more adventurous than you think. They are trying to explore and are curious to the world. This one gets thrown at me regularly, and I always have to pause to allow my little one to explore. There was the time when we were out to lunch with friends and he wanted chicken feet and proceeded to eat 2 of them. I personally do not like chicken feet and will not touch them, but he enjoyed it. The other surprise was when he wanted to eat curry. It was spicy, but he wanted to try it. He cried out “spicy,” but after a little milk to wash it down, proceeded to eat more. Most expect little ones to not like spicy food, but the power of following role models and curiosity may surprise you. (ADVICE: have some milk handy if your little one wants to try something spicy. It takes the pain away from the spice.) The power of role models is incredible which is why eating together is important. It is also important to try to expose your little ones to foods you may not like, so they have the opportunity to see and experience new things. Who knows, you may find you like something you thought you did not in the process.
Parenting is a learning experience for everyone. If something does not go the way you expect it to, do not be hard on yourself. There is always room for do-overs and another day is just around the corner to try again.