Up All Night star Will Arnett admitted to Redbook magazine that he recently bribed his toddler with a large ice cream cone to get him to finish his dinner.
“That thing is half his body weight, so he was going on chocolate and sugar until 10 p.m.,” he said.
Bad parent, right? Kids should just eat well because they just should, not because they’re getting a sugar reward. Parents should set good examples and help kids understand the right way to eat because that’s their job. Bad, bad, parent, Will Arnett. And while you’re at it, move over. Bad parents need company. I need company.
I remember reading Jane E. Brody’s Personal Health column in the New York Times years ago about how you should never force your kids to finish dinner, particularly if the goal is to get dessert. It was something about setting bad habits by forcing them to eat anything.
That’s all well and good in theory. But in practice, my older daughter knows that dessert exists, and that it will be hers. And since it’s just going to happen, you can be damn sure I’m going to try and get something green in her. At least that’s been my goal lately. OK, it was my goal once this week.
Normally I kind of shrug off a lot of things I know she should eat since I keep a pretty good mental list of what she consumes, and it’s not all terrible. Lots of fruit. Some milk with her mostly wholesome cereal. Whole wheat bread (on which peanut butter and jelly may or may not be spread). Protein enriched pasta (with either marinara sauce or fake butter). Peas. And pizza (minus the cheese). It could be better, it could be worse. My pediatrician doesn’t seem concerned, so therefore neither do I.
At dinner one night this week I made some edamame instead of peas. My daughter spied the pea-imposters and immediately declared she would not partake in the non-peas on her plate.
“Oh yes, you will,” I informed her, my brain deciding for the first time that a green-free night was not an option. It might have had something to do with the sugar cookie followed by the bucket of Goldfish she snacked on that afternoon.
“No,” she said calmly. “And I want a special treat.”
We’re not sure why she calls Hershey’s Nuggets special treats, since she automatically gets one in her lunch every day at preschool, and then one after dinner. It should really be called a standard treat, or even a routine meal-ender. But you try splitting hairs with a very particular 3-year-old.
“You know what?” I said. “You’re not getting another bite of anything unless you eat those edamame.”
She locked eyes with me to see if I was bluffing. And apparently I should take up poker. Because after a moment of searching for a sign, she shrugged her shoulders and ate the edamame.
“Mmmmm. Good,” she said.
Which made me feel guilty for not trying harder to get her to try more green things before then. Although not that guilty. It’s one of the benefits of being a bad parent who bribes her kids: the amazing ability to justify almost anything.
Do you ever bribe your kids to eat? What’s the real downside to it?