A question about food!

(28 Posts)
theoldmiff Sun 17-Nov-13 18:29:11

Hi everyone. I have to confess I am somewhat of a lurker on here (always finding good advice and tips - thank you all!)
Got a bit of a poser (and need a rant). Appreciate thoughts from step parents and parents alike.
I have two dsc and one ds. The dsc's mother is quite interfering and controlling about a lot of things. Now, recently, she's turned her attention to food. I have known in the past for her to send massive bags of crisps, sweets and biscuits in the kids' suitcases whoever we take them away. Annoying, but whatever. Anyway, now she's routinely moaning about what we feed the kids. Most meals the kids get here are home cooked from scratch and we have loads of snacks on offer - fruit, yoghurt, cheese, bread, biscuits, Pom bears, fruit loaf, etc. A few weeks ago, she sent a ranty email to dh with a list of the only food the kids will eat (they won't eat the same meals at her house you understand - she gives them different food).
So, dss will eat frozen chicken satay, frozen burgers, chicken nuggets, chips and pizza, ready meal roast pork, toad in the hole and cottage pie (not fresh! Ha, he always does at our house!). Also will drink lemonade. Dsd will eat ready meal bolognaise, frozen fish, ready meal stew, ready meal roast chicken, chocolate spread on toast. Will drink diet coke.
Now, I am quite shocked that a nice middle class mum thinks it's ok to feed her kids that kind of food every day, but my question is, what do I do? I will not feed that kind of food to my ds, dh, nor will I eat it myself. Nor do i particularly want to feed it to my dsc, whom i love very much. But now the ex wife is virtually accusing us of starving dss and trying to withhold contact (it's a shared custody arrangement). It's very upsetting for me and dh, and now dss is starting to become manipulative about food, despite the fact he eats what we have in the house and never starves, but obviously would prefer pizza and lemonade. (dsd is old enough to see through this and loves what she eats here).
Help! What do I do? Stand firm, or buy them ready meals, etc, for them to eat while we eat the good stuff?
Thank you :-)

flowerpotgirl12 Sun 17-Nov-13 18:45:07

we had a similar problem with our dsc, , they refused to eat anything other than frozen food. They claimed it was all they ate at home and didn't like anything else (not sure I believe that) however dp would feed them that to keep them happy when I moved in I put my foot down and cooked proper food and tokd them they ate it or they didn't eat. we had a couple of evenings of protest but now they'll eat anything given to them. think you need to stand firm wyy should you cook 2 different meals, not to mention the cost.

theoldmiff Sun 17-Nov-13 19:19:13

That's been our position since day one, but the ex wife is just pushing it so much, accusing us of starving dss. She's now texted my dh this evening to say that neither of the children want to stay with us now. I don't believe it at all as dsd was upset on Thurs night when she couldn't come as normal as the ex wife had told her that dh was away (he wasn't). The threatening and the food issue is so upsetting.
I think at the heart of this is the ex wife wanting more money from dh. He pays more than the agreed maintenance but she asked him for additional money recently for school uniform. He does contribute to extraordinary expenses (schools holidays) but not school uniform (although his parents give his ex wife about £500 a year towards the kids' school clothes). She can afford two skiing holidays a year, plus other holidays (all but two since ive known her taken without the kids) and to get her hair and nails done every week, but not the uniform. I have a nasty suspicion that she is trying to wheedle more money out of dh and is holding access over him so she can ask for more money. Hubby and I are just so upset now :-(

theoldmiff Sun 17-Nov-13 19:20:04

Ps thank you :-) it is always good to know there are others who have been in the same position and it's got better. x

TheMumsRush Sun 17-Nov-13 19:44:26

I would just ignore it, continue with what you are doing, it sound yum. I don't tell my dsc's mum what to feed her kids and she doesn't tell me what to feed her kids (god I'm lucky smile....also, I've learnt, if kids are hungry, and you've put a perfectly nice meal in front of them, they will eat it.

Georgia82 Sun 17-Nov-13 19:56:59

100% agree theoldmiff. It's really frustrating isn't it? My dsd lives with us most of the time (apart from eow) and we have similar issues. We cook from scratch (mostly) and don't let her have fizzy sugary drinks etc... That all changes when she sees her Mum and we often get strops. We do the same as you. It's X or nothing (serving up something we know she likes of course). Of course, its up to her Mum to feed her daughter as she sees fit, however the same goes for my DH too. Trouble is, I can't help thinking that ex does some things to compensate for not being around as much and because if my DH said X, she'd say Y for the sake of it..

TBH your DSC Mum sounds awful. Stopping contact?! (She can't - shared care arrangement?) How awful for her children! Sounds like she likes to use them to get what she wants and expects an easy life... However, you of course will be starving them as you are obviously just being mean, not consistent with your dc, or for their overall health wink

passedgo Sun 17-Nov-13 20:06:04

I think you should stand firm on the basis that 'this is what we eat here' 'that's what you eat at home'.

I reckon dss is getting fed up being told what to do and what not to do by various different people with different rules so try to make sure he has control of some aspects of his life, let him make choices about food, but ones that fit into your way of eating.

Give him choices, but you give the options. Don't control everything he eats, it will backfire.

theoldmiff Sun 17-Nov-13 20:17:33

Thank you everyone. We are honestly trying to stand firm, but it is so difficult when we are being told they won't come.
I'd really like to think that if the boot was on the other food, I wouldn't risk childhood obesity, dental problems, etc, not to mention the impression all if this gives to the kids and the effect it has on them, because I just wanted to get one up on my ex.
Georgia82, I think you are right. The ex is very into getting her own way. Some things she's done would make your hair curl. Dsd is fortunately old enough to be able to know her own mind, but dss is very sensitive and I think risks becoming like her to get his own way.

riverboat Sun 17-Nov-13 20:25:00

How any sane adult can insist that someone will eat burgers but only frozen, or roast pork but only from a ready meal is completely beyond me.

I think you should keep meal times as calm as possible and just try not to get involved in any emotion over them. If it was me being presented with these ultimatums, I'd probably make dinners based loosely on those options presented by the ex but make them from fresh using real ingredients and lots of vegetables. Easy to make nutritious, veg-laden burgers, pizza, spag bol, roast dinners etc. If the children started asking if it was frozen or ready meal or whatever I'd just find a way to not answer the question, or answer the question with another question, like '
'what do you understand to be the difference between frozen burgers and non-frozen burgers?"

I sympathise, and completely agree it seems such a bizarre point for the ex to take issue with, since it sounds like your DSS are more or less happy to just get on with eating whatever is presented!

AliceinWonderhell Sun 17-Nov-13 20:43:53

I understand exactly where you are coming from - my DH is currently being told that his DS doesn't want contact because he doesn't like the conversations that he is involved in when he's here.

It's about control - his Mum wants DH to parent her way, and it sounds like your DPs ex is similar - it's not hard for a RP to convince their child that they don't want to see their NRP; and after a while its a habit that's too hard to break!

It sounds like your DPs ex isn't 'reasonable' so I suggest he arranges for a MIAM with a mediation company as soon as possible. They will contact his ex and invite her to attend.
That might be the shock she needs to see sense, but if not - assuming the DCs are younger than 10/11, then apply to court for a contact order (or enforce the existing order if one is already in place).

If they're older, then there's nothing he can do but wait for them to 'need' him. I suggest he establishes indirect contact ASAP - regular phone calls, emails/letters etc. It makes a huge difference to DCs to know that their NRP hadn't forgotten them even when they are refusing contact. My DSD refused for two years but when something happened and she 'needed' her Dad, the letters that he had sent regularly meant that he wasn't a stranger to her and she turned to him for help.

passedgo Sun 17-Nov-13 20:50:21

This is why shared care is not always the ideal solution we think it might be. I think it must be hard for children to have such different rules in their different homes. It may be that ex is having a change of heart about access - if time spent with Dad was the exception rather than the rule, the different foods would be tolerated or not such an issue.

I'm not criticising your arrangement here btw, just explaining. It may be that the access needs to change.

IsThatTrue Sun 17-Nov-13 21:00:02

I'm a RP, my XH has EOW contact. While the dcs are there they eat various takeaways, lots of frozen food, hardly any fruit or veg. They only have booster seats in his car whereas they both fit in high backed boosters (height and weight wise) and are safer with side protection. They don't have bedtimes just fall asleep wherever eventually.

They come back horrible with no manors for a few days.

BUT he is their father, he is parenting the way he sees fit, it is not my way but it's not my place to tell him what he can/can't feed them/do with them.

YANBU your DHs XW is being a controlling idiot. I'm not sure what the best course of action is if she's refusing to let the children come to your house!

theoldmiff Sun 17-Nov-13 21:14:47

Thanks riverboat :-) Yes, that's what we've been doing, but DSS has realised that if he goes running to his mummy, she will give him more of the trash food he wants and she will nag us to let him have it here too.
DH has texted her back to let her know that what happens here is his responsibility just as what happens at hers is nowt to do with us. He's suggested they talk about it face to face as it just can't carry on like this.

theoldmiff Sun 17-Nov-13 21:21:37

You are all right - IsthatTrue, you made me laugh out loud!
Passedgo - The only way contact would change for the better is for us to have more access, not less. Even the ex's own mother thinks she's lacking in the parenting dept. Once she left the dsc with her mother saying she was nipping to the supermarket, while actually driving to her bf's a county away. Came back two days later. And this while dsd was ill! There's worse behaviour too, but we don't want to undermine her by getting third parties involved. We would only do so if they were being ill treated.

passedgo Sun 17-Nov-13 21:33:25

Perhaps you should put it on the table as an offer - next time she does something stupid ask whether it would be better for dsc to stay all week for example?

Perhaps she actually wants more time to herself and doesn't want to accept her feelings so is over-compensating by interfering with mealtimes. Or perhaps she is afraid of losing them and insecure.

But there is something wrong here, out of kilter iyswim.

theoldmiff Sun 17-Nov-13 23:25:46

Yes, you are right, this isn't quite right. Not from conversations with other parents and my experience of being a mum to ds (5 years younger than dss and almost 10 years younger than dsd). Not sure why though, so we're not sure how to address it. Probably goes back to control. And the fact she wants to have her cake and eat it. Our care of dsd and dss usually runs Thurs to Sun, every week. As she works Mon-Fri, I think that speaks volumes.

passedgo Sun 17-Nov-13 23:29:38

Does it speak volumes? Or is it because having her children near to school and home four days a week means more stability for them.

theoldmiff Mon 18-Nov-13 00:06:50

I appreciate that you don't know what it's like for our family, but the ex wife spends very little time with her children. they are never in the same room during the week, except to eat. By her own admission! And then she doesn't want them at weekends because she wants what she calls 'me time'. I hate to be blunt, but her current and past behaviours indicate that she doesn't think beyond the end of her own, very small, nose. Her parents, siblings and friends can see it, we can see it, and what's worse is the dsd knows it too, finds it very upsetting, and dss is acting up because of it. Dsd craves her attention, but the ex wife will do nothing that interests dsd, even going so far as to cancel birthday parties because they don't suit her (including cancelling one because she didn't like liking dsd's choice of activity). She also refuses to spend any time 1-2-1 with dsd. I've even heard dsd beg to spend time with just mummy, with the ex wife saying she didn't have time for dsd. So upsetting.

passedgo Mon 18-Nov-13 01:39:42

I think the only solution is to communicate with her more. It sounds as though you are frosty and judgemental and that will make the dscs very confused. The food is an expression of the whole sorry situation. That boy is saying 'My Mum's different to you but she's my Mum'. If dsd wants more one to one time then that's sad but there's nothing you can do - accept that you can give her that attention and she will have to grow up to understand that her Mum's not always got time for her. Not right, but that's what she's like. She is still her Mum.

I understand it's tricky but I'm trying to see it from the childrens point of view. Focusing on the bad Mum isn't going to help at all.

TheMumsRush Mon 18-Nov-13 08:35:13

I don't think children get confused by different rules in different homes. Kids know there are different rules at school/clubs/Nan's house to their home. Same with rules at nrp's. House. Kids soon learn what they can do where.

Kaluki Mon 18-Nov-13 11:05:59

I have a sign in my kitchen which says "there are two options on today's menu - take it or leave it!"
I live by that. If they don't like whats in front of them tough. They get nothing else. That's how I treat my dc and dsc are no different.
I cook everything from scratch and we only have coke / lemonade at Christmas! That is why dps ex calls me a stuck up cow but my dc are healthy, have good teeth and aren't overweight. The DSC however have appalling teeth and are always ill with something or other.

theoldmiff Fri 22-Nov-13 23:04:33

Just wanted to update. DH spoke to the ex wife on Tuesday after lots of silliness and text messages saying that DSC were adamant they did not want to come to our house again. Seems to have been successful - we gave her a full list of snack food on offer at our house (silenced her) and DH pointed out that while priorities might be different in each home, they can't undermine each other as the kids need to know what the rules are in each of their homes and that they're old enough to know the difference if he and the ex can be grown up enough to respect this too.
Turns out she thinks we are rolling in cash as she can't afford to cook from scratch. (Ha ha, if only! Aldi and Lidl are my not so secret weapons.) DH mentioned priorities (ie fresh food over hair, make up, skiing holidays, etc) and that if she didn't buy three separate ready meals for the evening meal, she could cook from scratch. Not sure if she will change, but she has conceded the point that she's made a rod for her own back. As long as it gets her off our back, that's fine. It's up to her what happens in her house, just as it's up to us what we do in ours.
Upshot is that things have improved this week - and she is actually trying to enforce rules in her house rather than having a free for all with food, computer games, etc. How long this will last, I don't know, but she hasn't sent us the usual missives about food, etc. DSC also a bit contrite as we think they were trying to somehow manipulate the situation to their advantage, ie if they moan to mummy that they are being starved, then she will let them have chocolate and crisps. Not thinking that mummy might not realise this and have a go at daddy, which made things worse.
DSC have tonight enjoyed home made sweet and sour chicken (DSD still amazed you don't need a jar of sauce) with clean plates all round!
Hopefully things will stay this way and the DSC can continue to be happy and well-looked after in both homes :-)

passedgo Sat 23-Nov-13 08:47:31

OP I must say I don't like your sneery tone and I hope you don't express yourself like that around dscs, they will be picking it up anyway and it will be tormenting them.

Perhaps Mummy can't actually cook and never learned?

TheMumsRush Sat 23-Nov-13 09:52:41

Op that's good to hear things have improved, like you said, as long as the dsc are happy and healthy in both homes, what you do in each is up to you smile

theoldmiff Sat 23-Nov-13 21:50:06

Thanks TheMumsRush. Yes, lots better, and had a really good chat with DSD this evening :-)
Passedgo. Forgive me, but I thought this was a safe place mums and stepmums could share their thoughts without being judged by others. You have no idea of the details of our situation or the ongoing behaviours we, and our children face from the ex wife, which I have never and would never ever let affect my DSC (we work hard with the ex's own parents to ensure this absolutely does not happen), but an outlet is needed sometimes and I am sorry if you don't like me using this one here to vent. Being accused of starving children as we were, is deeply distressing, particularly when it's patently not true, so I'm sorry if I felt a little happy at how things were resolved for the benefit and happiness of my DSD.

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