This morning I made my daughter hot chocolate for breakfast.
OK, so when it comes to hot chocolate from scratch is't a big deal: milk, cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla+stir. (Actually I used maple syrup instead of sugar, but still...)
As I was stirring I thought about all the times people have been surprised when they see me or my daughter eating anything that isn't Über healthy.
To these folks I always say, "My message is about proportion--fitting treats into your diet in the right way."
Then—remember, all of this is going on in my own mind— I got defensive. "It's got calcium," I said to the fictional critic.
"And the muffin is whole wheat!" (Yes, I also took a homemade muffin out of the freezer, because what's hot chocolate without a muffin?)
But I didn't give my daughter the hot chocolate (or the muffin) for either of these reasons.
Nope. Though I could have convinced myself that I did.
I gave my daughter hot chocolate because I'm a Nurturer: A Person who Feeds to Show Love.
My poor little 7th grader is feeling particularly stressed right now. Last night was homework hell. And when I woke her up this morning (because she forgot to set her alarm), the first thing she said was, "I have to study."
I've confessed to my Nurturer tendencies before.
Read Cookie Love.
And I like to think of myself as a reformed Nurturer.
Like it or not, we all feed our children for, shall we say, extra-curricular reasons!
I'm a nurturer, but some parents are Peacemakers (using food to avoid conflict) or Time Buyers (using food to get some peace and quiet). And many of us are Hunger Avoiders (using food to make sure your kids never, ever feel a drop of hunger.)
What motivates how you feed your kids?
The point isn't to feel bad. The point is to recognize that these weak spots sabotage our efforts to teach our kids healthy eating habits.
My hot chocolate this morning won't do any real damage, but if I give in to my food=love impulse on a regular basis, what lessons and habits will I teach my daughter? To comfort herself with love?
It's something to think about.
Maybe even to read about!
I discuss this idea in detail in Chapter Three of It's Not About the Broccoli.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~