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MELBA321 Posts: 66
8/21/13 2:36 A

This is just an idea, but since you don't get to see your stepson as often, it may be possible he is retaliating a bit for the time he's missed from his parent. Often the kids have it the hardest in divorce. They are often forced to have less time with one parent (whether they like it or agree or not), and sometimes it's very hard for them to understand. Ego and attitude are sometimes the only way they know how to communicate their frustrations (since they don't know exactly how to say what's really bothering them).

Maybe, you can talk with your spouse and figure out together some activities your stepson enjoys. Then maybe you can offer after the next meal (complained about) "After you finish your meal, we will be doing _____ or going to ______" --Possibly that will give the incentive (without having to scald) for your stepson to respect the rules at the table & finish his food. Plus, doing activities he enjoys/misses may help fill that missing void from the time apart and help with making each visit more positive for all. It could be a win/win for all. Of course, it's still very important to enforce manners, responsibility, accountability and respect toward rules too.

MAGWINA SparkPoints: (1,272)
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8/21/13 1:27 A

I won't be much help here. In my house you eat what is given to you, or you go hungry. Period, end of story. No PBJ, McDonalds, or pizza to fill in. I tell everyone I am not a restaurant.

ALLIBEAR77 SparkPoints: (24,766)
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7/28/13 9:00 A

It sounds like he's not being overtly rude, just being a bit too blunt, the way 8-year-olds tend to be. So, that's a good thing, and it makes me think he genuinely doesn't like it. If he's used to lots of processed food at his mom's, then fresh foods might have too strong a taste for him.

There are a lot of "sneaky" recipes out there for adding veggies to kids' food. Things like adding cauliflower to mac and cheese. I have Jessica Seinfeld's cook book, "Deceptively Delicious".

Tomato sauce is a flavor lots of kids enjoy, and can be added to lots of food to add some veggie content.

TCOOLEY412 Posts: 62
7/13/13 3:28 P

It may not even be about the food but as a grown step-child here is my advice. I don't know how long you have been his step-mom but he may be using the food as a control issue. I did a lot of stuff to my step-dad before accepting him into my life. I would set dinner table boundaries (I do this with my own kids as a matter of fact):

1. You are not allowed to say you do not like something or that it's gross or smells bad, etc: it's rude
2. You have to eat X, Y, Z (in our house the kids have to eat 2 out of 3 things I cook).
3. If I made something new everyone has to try it

You may want to provide fruit with the meals as an incentive to try the veggies. Meaning, tell him if you eat 2 bites of veggies you can have the peaches. I also bribed my kids when they were little: try a bite you get $.25 eat the serving get a dollar. Of course, $.25 is not going to be a big deal to an 8 yr old but you could find something that will work.

Finally, decide is this battle really worth fighting? You have him for such a small amount of time; you are not going to change everything about his eating in such little time.

JENNA3 SparkPoints: (41,427)
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7/11/13 10:07 A

Lenatroxtell88 has a great point and I was going to make the same one. Call him in advance of his visit or have your spouse do it instead. Ask him one thing that he would really like to eat while visiting. Then find the recipe you want to use for it, take him shopping if he's into that or you can do it in advance. Have him help you cook it. My son never liked chicken until he helped me cook it. Make it into an event that you and he do together and he might warm up a little to your cooking.


7/2/13 8:03 A

My kids don't like most vegetables, and we've been serving them a variety since they started eating solid food. One thing that helps is to offer at least two vegetables at every meal, and the kids get to choose one (but often have to taste a bite of the other one). Giving them choices makes them feel more in control, which is a big issue for my kids. My son will sometimes try new veggies if he helps pick them out at the farmer's market, which somehow makes them seem more appealing than veggies from the grocery store (last week - kohlrabi!)
And lastly, after reading a book about the food companies that make us addicted to packaged food by adding sugar, salt, and fat, I have been much more generous in adding those to veggies. My kids are allowed to add extra salt or Parmesan or dip their veggies in ketchup. Whatever works!

5/22/13 4:56 P

Try having him help you cook dinner one night. Maybe give him a couple of options, then go to the store and pick out everything you need, and then make a big deal out of doing it together. I don't know if it will work but you could try! Good luck!

BERKANA_T Posts: 138
5/22/13 2:50 P

My daughter went through a stage similar to what you're describing for your step-son. We tried various different options, but eventually came up with allowing her ONE, and only one, food that she absolutely did NOT have to eat - no questions asked by her parents, no nagging or bargaining to get her to eat it, nothing. And in return, she has to at least try everything on her plate.

There are a few rules that go with this deal:
1) as mentioned above, she has to try everything on her plate that is NOT the one food she doesn't have to eat
2) if she feels the urge to complain or whine about what she's served, she has the option of eating a full measuring cup of the one food she doesn't have to eat and changing what she doesn't have to eat to something new

We've been using this for over 8 years now. She still hasn't changed the one food she doesn't have to eat. Every now and then she'll complain about what she's served, at which point I offer to get her a can of tomatoes (since tomatoes is what she chose as the food she doesn't have to eat). The offer is enough to remind her to mind her tongue and not complain or whine.

We've also encouraged her to mind her manners when she's eating in company, either at home or at someone else's house. Being polite doesn't stop being a requirement, just because she's at home.

Edited by: BERKANA_T at: 5/22/2013 (14:51)
JENSTRESS Posts: 3,169
5/22/13 9:57 A

No problem!!!

Yes, actually! Infact, she is 13 and I still occasionally have problems with her eating veggies. I have started to let her put real shredded cheese (not processed yuk) on her veggies and she LOVES them now. She will eat them all. She even gets excited for them. That is one trick I use, She also really has loved ke-bobs. We do steak and or chicken (depending on the day, sometimes both) and will grill some higher glycemic potatoes (reds or golds) and all kinds of veggies on the skewer. She would really eat those up. I would also make mashed sweet potatoes or roast a butter nut or acorn squash, then mash it up, she would eat that up.

Our meals typically now consist of grilled meat (usually chicken, because she doesn't like fish) rice and veggies.

One thing that we do is make "taco nights" and grill meat (again, steak or chicken) slice it up into cubes, make a tomato salsa, a corn salsa, and mix it all up (each person mixes their own) and top with a little sour cream and cheese. You can eat it with a fork like that, or with taco/tortilla shells. It is very healthy, and fun, and the kids love it. You can even add a rice if the kids like rice.

I think give him a little time, and as he gets older, he will complain less. Doesn't mean he will necessarily like it more, but the complaints will grow less. Also, we make sure that she would thank us for preparing dinner. That really helped with the complaints too!!!

5/21/13 5:16 P

Thank you for the reply JENSTRESS! Unfortuneately, my husband is not the custodial parent and we only get the little guy about once a month, sometimes twice (he lives 3 hours away). I know this is probably why we have trouble with getting him to eat "our food", because it's not what he's used to at his house. My husband is actually very supportive of me and following the healthy food rules at the dinner table and he always makes my step-son eat most of what's on his plate and makes him at least try the vegetables. Unfortunately this doesn't curb the complaining. One time, my step-son did the whole fake-gagging and we put a kabosh to that right away. Luckily he hasn't tried it since, but he still complains all the time and it's embarrassing when we have company over. I am hoping he grows out of it, but I am not sure what the real culprit is, if he really doesn't like my cooking or it's just a defiance issue. He has been part of my life since he was 4 years old, and I am starting to notice over the years that this particular behavior is getting worse. His tastes on what he likes and doesn't like change every time we get him, it seems, so it's hard to find a food that he is actually content with that is also healthy. I am relieved that I am not the only one experiencing a picky eater issue, and I appreciate the suggestions :) The foods of choice you mentioned your step-daughter liked, the mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, ramen noodles... that sounds exactly like my step-son's staples, except exchange the steak for chicken. Are there any healthy dishes you make that your step-daughter likes now?

JENSTRESS Posts: 3,169
5/21/13 10:04 A

First, how often is your stepson with you? I only ask because it can make it easier to plan meals for shorter periods of time.

Second, I would recommend talking to your spouse. You can't control what he eats when he isn't with you, but if you want to have the rules at your home, then you can. Your spouse needs to help you reinforce these rules. Or needs to talk to him and tell him that he needs to eat at least MOST of what is on his plate and try everything.

My step-daughter was about that age when my husband and I started to see each other. As things got serious and I was making dinners and etc. I started to notice that he let her get away without eating the good for her stuff often. When she would ask for seconds on the mashed potatoes, I would say, "After you finish the veggies." When my husband saw that, he actually supported me immediately. My step-daughter still isn't a huge veggie lover, but she knows she has to eat them, AND she knows she has to try everything that is on her plate. It has taken her from a picky eater who almost exclusively ate macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, ramen noodles and steak, to a kid who will eat pretty much anything I cook. It does make it easier that my husband is the custodial parent, though, because she was eating with us 25 days a month!

5/21/13 3:12 A

My stepson is 8 and he hates my cooking. I can never make him happy. I try to make healthier versions of his favorite foods, and he always tells us he doesn't like it. The only veggies he will even touch are canned green beans and raw carrots. I refuse to let him fill up on the pizza and McDonald's that he eats regularly at his house. He does love fresh fruit, I'll give him that one, but I can't get him to eat any vegetables and it's a rule at our house that we eat a veggie with every meal. Every time I make a meal and we sit down to eat it, he complains about it. EVERY TIME. Then when he doesn't get enough dinner because he didn't like it, he gets hungry an hour after we've eaten and wants a snack. I don't know if it's just because he is being defiant or if he actually doesn't like it. I am not reallly sure what else to do. I have gone as far as pureeing (sp?) veggies in the tomato sauce I used for spaghetti one night, and he had no clue they were in it, yet he still complained about it. He can never really specify what it is that he doesn't like... he just says he doesn't like it. Help!

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