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to be shocked at my nieces' and nephews' diet?

(197 Posts)
hornybill Fri 12-Oct-12 07:09:09

I might even have to say something to SIL, but not sure, so I thought I'd see what you lot say first.

SIL and her DH have 4 dcs, 7, 5, 3 and 6 months. I love them all and see them regularly. SIL has a very different approach to parenting from me and DH's but whatever, none of my business.

But, the 3 older dcs eat nothing but junk. Crisps, biscuits, ice lollies and orange squash mainly. I used to tell myself that just because that's what they ate when I saw them didn't mean that's what they always eat, but I've now spent enough time with them that I know this is how they always eat. They never really eat meals as such, she just gives them snacks all day long, but not healthy snacks. I think she finds it hard to cope with 4 dcs (fair enough) but the way she has dealt with this is to give them something to eat every time they are bored. So now they ask for food all the time.

I often pick up the older 2 from school and their packed lunch is virtually untouched so they are hungry when they get home and immediately start on the crisps etc. I think they don't bother to eat the sandwich because they know they will get crisps and biscuits as soon as they get home.

I don't understand why SIL who is intelligent and lovely would feed her dcs like this? I'm all for being relaxed around food but this must be terrible for their health?

What does the children's father think/do?

hornybill Fri 12-Oct-12 07:14:20

I think their dad might not like it tbh, but he very laid back and does whatever needs to be done to keep SIL happy. He works hard and helps her but I suspect he might have been happy to stop at 2 dcs!

RobynRidingHood Fri 12-Oct-12 07:16:24

It's not illegal to buy this stuff, so really, you are being a bit judgy. It works for her. As you said, her approach is very different to yours.

Boggler Fri 12-Oct-12 07:18:42

If she's finding it hard to manage with 4 children shes not going to appreciate you sitting her down to point out the failings of her children's diet. With the youngest 2 being so young she's bound to be finding things challenging, my ds was 8 when dd came along and he's always been fed properly, however with the upheaval of a newborn I found he was helping himself to cakes etc more than we would have normally allowed. Why don't you do something practical like inviting the older dc's for tea a couple of times and make sure you feed them something other than junk. If they see your children eating they will follow suit?

hornybill Fri 12-Oct-12 07:19:01

I know I am being a bit judgy, and I wouldn't say anything like what I
I've said above to SIL. If I did say anything I would do it very carefully.

We also sometimes have crisps and biscuits, but in SIL's house we are talking 2 or 3 multipacks per day. That is extreme surely?

Well TBH it sounds like a shit diet (and my DCs' diet is very very far from perfect). In fact it does sound like neglect IM (amateur) O.
However I don't like the way this is all laid at your SIL's door.

Boggler, the having more cakes wouldn't bother me, but the "never having a proper meal (even if it's just beans on toast or fish fingers or bread/cheese/ham/veg sticks) would bother me.

SaraBellumHertz Fri 12-Oct-12 07:23:18

I have three children who will eat anything so it would be easy to judge, but some children can be nightmarish with food.

My own DN's are extremely fussy and my dsis struggles enormously with what to give them.

the fact that you say they are not eating lunch suggests that they are fussy eaters- rather than the DC or your sil simply cant be bothered, they are being offered "proper" food but won't eat it.

Your comment regarding (your brother?) being happy to stop at 2 comes across as unpleasant and judgey

Tailtwister Fri 12-Oct-12 07:24:27

If that really is all they're getting then YANBU, it's a terrible diet. They will all face health issues in the future if they continue like that.

4 children so close in age is a lot to deal with though. My guess is she's bloody knackered and has taken the route of least resistance regarding food. I don't know how you would approach it, but maybe best to mention it to your brother rather than SIL? She might have to take quite an extreme approach to reverse the habit though, getting rid of all the unhealthy stuff from the house so the only option is healthy stuff.

hornybill Fri 12-Oct-12 07:26:02

Boggler yes I have the older 3 over quite a bit, although SIL prefers me to go to her house to watch them as she finds is hard to get them ready to go out. I was there on Saturday with DH and our dcs so she could go into town with her DH and the baby. We arrived just before lunch so I said I'll give them all lunch shall I (her 3 and my 3), she looked a bit vague and said ok. She left some chocolate that she said the dcs could have.

When she left I looked in the cupboards for bread etc but there was nothing so DH went out and bought bread, ham, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and grapes. I made a plate for each of them with a bit of everything. Eldest niece did eat some, the 2 others just played with it. I don't know what they'd eaten before so I don't know if they were not hungry or didn't like it. The 5yo mushed up his food in his hands and started to put it in his drink, so I removed everything from him. He then wanted the chocolate and I said well you didn't eat any lunch so you can't be hungry for chocolate can you?

He sulked a bit then when his mum came home he immediately ran to her crying and told her I wouldn't give him the chocolate. I said well he didn't eat any lunch, and she just gave him the chocolate.

GrimAndHumourless Fri 12-Oct-12 07:33:30

Yea another one here wondering how the father gets off scot-free

The not having Proper Meals doesn't sound good; can the father read? Yes? Then he can follow a recipe

Why don't you say to the older ones No, one pack each, when they start on the crisps, have fruit ready, or crudites and dip

And your comment about the father happy to stop at two dcs - well if this is true he should've abstained.

OP you ought to go think about your sexist attitudes

limitedperiodonly Fri 12-Oct-12 07:38:49

I'd be disappointed with a plate of bread, ham, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and grapes.

quirrelquarrel Fri 12-Oct-12 07:43:00

Of course YANBU to be shocked. OP isn't suggested she go and stick her oar in. She's just shocked. As anyone should be, really.

They don't sound like they have food "issues" other than not being used to trying things they don't like. So it's probably pointless trying to explain it away by saying they're incorrigible fussy eaters.

Sirzy Fri 12-Oct-12 07:50:42

When you cook meals can you freeze some extra and say to her "I had some left over so thought I would be handy for days when your in a rush/when DC4 is being a grump etc"

"limitedperiodonly Fri 12-Oct-12 07:38:49
I'd be disappointed with a plate of bread, ham, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and grapes. "

My DC would absolutely love this (and do, in fact). But then they also like Me Too so I question their judgement.

Bossybritches22 Fri 12-Oct-12 08:35:38

Could yr SIL have PND hornybill ?

Whatever the label sounds like she is struggling + needs support. I know when I had it our menus went out the window as too much effort.

Could yr brother take over some cooking beans on toast with cheese on top etc is always a good quicky.

YANBU at all or judge but concerned for the family .

hornybill Fri 12-Oct-12 08:54:00

OK. SIL is DH's sister. Her DH (my BIL) has made various jokey comments that they have more dcs than they can handle, and when SIL was expecting dc3 she told me she had had to persuade her DH. But he had agreed (and to dc4 presumably!) and he is a good father. I just think it was mainly SIL who wanted more than 2. That was all I meant by the "would have liked to stop at 2" comment.

Of course some dcs are very fussy, but I think in this case they have just got into the habit of eating so many snacks that they are never hungry at meal times. Another reason I think this is that I've had them all day at my house on a few occasions and they have had to eat the same as my dcs - 3 meals and a couple of small snacks in between. It was obvious that they are not used to sitting down for meals, but they did mostly eat what they were given, probably because I actually let them get hungry. I would be happy to help SIL out with meals, but I just don't think they would be eaten, as her dcs now know they only need to fuss once and they are given something else instead.

I don't think SIL is depressed. She seems to enjoy all her children but really, really struggles with setting boundaries for them. She hates confrontation and will do anything to keep the peace.

hornybill Fri 12-Oct-12 08:56:22

limitedperiodonly what do suggest my DH knocked up in a few minutes for their lunch in that case? I don't think we did too bad considering she left us with 6 kids and no proper food.

BlueberryHill Fri 12-Oct-12 08:56:57

I'm going to go against the grain here but if the SIL is at home all day and the brother is out working then it is SIL responsibility to feed the children properly. That is the way it works in our house at the moment, I don't see how my DH should be responsible during the week when he doesn't get home until after 6 pm, we have small children so they need to eat before then. At the weekend it is different but if the kids aren't eating decent food during the week it is difficult to get them to eat it at the weekend.

Having said that I agree with a number of posters who say that your SIL may find it difficult to cope at the moment, they have 4 young children. What does your brother think? Could you broach the subject with him without him being defensive about it? It is important that children are eating a range of foods including fruit and veg. I'm not saying that they shouldn't have crisps but from what you describe they are eating too many of them at the expense of foods that will help them to grow and develop properly.

Oh, there is nothing wrong with a plate of sandwiches and some fruit.

hornybill Fri 12-Oct-12 08:58:10

grimandhumourless it's not my place surely to tell them what they can have in their own house when their mum is there? In my house or if SIL leaves me in charge then of course I would.

minouminou Fri 12-Oct-12 08:58:33

I think limited was having a joke!

BlueberryHill Fri 12-Oct-12 08:59:41

Sorry, got all the relationships wrong in my post, but you know what I mean.

Agree with that, assuming the sil is a sahm, which we don't know , but the op is talking about the whole approach to parenting nd the children's diet. For which both parents are responsible. This is more than just one meal, this is about their shopping, meal planning and cooking habits, their attitudes to food and to the health and wellbeing of their children.
If the op had been shocked that the sil fed her dc crisps for lunch on one day I'd have agreed with you - completely her choice. But assuming they have a strict division of labour, she is neglecting to feed them and he is doing nothing to prevent his children being neglected.

CuriousMama Fri 12-Oct-12 09:03:55

Has it always been this way or is it just because there's a baby?

Sounds like a lot of salt and sugar though?

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