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to want them to stop overfeeding DCs

(35 Posts)
badbelinda Tue 06-Aug-13 21:01:42

I know this is going to sound horribly ungrateful and would like your opinion on whether I'm over-reacting. DPILs live 20 mins from us and help out a lot with childcare. Not a regular arrangement, just ad-hoc, eg. when I have a late meeting or during school hols but it does however work out as about once a week, sometimes more. They adore DCs and are always willing and helpful.

The problem is the amount of sweets/cakes they give DCs. Both DCs are not skinny but I have no intention of making a big thing of it and would certainly never mention "diet" to them. DH and I are just trying to make healthy meals at home, do more exercise as a family and make sure there's very little in the way of junk food in the house but plenty of nice fruit for snacks. He had a discreet word with his DPs so they could be on board with this and they seemed to agree but I think it's gone in one ear and out the other.
Examples - if they pick them up from school, they take them to the village shop (3 miles out of their way) to buy sweets (not just a few - usually a Mars Bar sized sweet each) then unsurprisingly DCs won't eat their tea. They had them for the day yesterday and each DC had doughnuts after lunch, popcorn and sweets at the cinema, pizza for tea and another doughnut for pudding. I think they saw the look on my face when the kids told me this with great delight and they (PILs) said they were cutting back from today onwards. However they only had them for the morning today and when I picked them up they'd had Magnum ice creams and cakes for pudding after lunch.
I think they're of a generation who demonstrated their love to their kids by feeding. I really do appreciate their help and the many ways they support us and would hate to hurt their feelings. I wouldn't be so bothered if DCs were slim or if they only looked after them occasionally but they do have them a lot and I don't know whether to say something again or just try and make up for it by being super-healthy on the days they're not looking after them.
What do you think? Am I making too much of this? or should we be laying down the law more firmly?

IfIonlyhadsomesleep Thu 08-Aug-13 20:41:05

Yanbu. We go on holiday with my in laws and although I have realised that I have to relax in order to enjoy our holiday, I still feel uncomfortable with what they give them. Dfil is a little mocking when I say that they can't have a packet of crisps/ice cream/chocolate bar/sweets because they've already had one (of each!) that day. If we didn't have that rule, dfil would give them whatever they wanted whenever they wanted and I see dd1 balloon when that happens.
Of course gps should spoil their gc but some take it too far.

HopeClearwater Thu 08-Aug-13 18:47:32

My ILs do this with my DC. It's almost a competition with them - 'let's see how many treats the kids can eat'. As the ILs are both overweight, and their son (my DC's dad) is too, it really winds me up. I think there is also an element of them needing an excuse to bring out the ice cream / fat puddings for themselves too. My response if I am there is just to say very firmly, 'No. They've had enough', and the remaining sweets are usually brought home for me to put in the cupboard and give out later. I couldn't give a stuff about offending my ILs because of their behaviour in the past around some serious matters. My DCs welfare comes first. The elder one especially tends to throw up if he has too much crap so I've no qualms about protecting him.
They don't see a lot of them (for other reasons) and my kids are extremely active, so I don't worry too much about it. But YANBU. For some ILs there is a bit of a control thing going on.

MrsBonkers Thu 08-Aug-13 13:58:31

My Mum does this with DD. She used to bring chocolate with her every time she came over - its what my Nan used to do with me. I tried telling her that I didn't want DD to have the same issues as me with food (I have a really bad diet and am overweight.) It didn't work.
I find its easier to tell people what you DO want them to do, rather than what you DON'T. e.g. If you want to give DD a treat, can you bring some strawberries, she loves those.... or can you make sure they eat their dinner before you give them treats. How about asking them to help you up the kids activity levels as you're worried about their weight. That way its about asking for help, rather than 'blaming' their actions.
Good luck.

thegreylady Thu 08-Aug-13 13:33:16

My dgs are 4 and 6 and always tell me 'Mummy says just one treat when we are with you and another after dinner!'They stick to that absolutely to the extent that when I offered a shared cake and lemonade after lunch they were worried that that was two treats even though it was a half portion each!They wanted me to phone my dd to check!I didn't but they told her as soon as she got in and were reassured that it could count as one treat. Dd was embarrassed but we agreed it was probably a good thing as I am always tempted to overdo the goodies.

badbelinda Thu 08-Aug-13 13:03:40

Thanks for all the good suggestions. DD does suffer from constipation and has been quite unwell with it so that would be a good angle to use. I also might try the suggestion of other treats instead eg. comics. Yesterday they went to an ice-cream farm and understandably had ice-creams, however I did think the jam doughnut for mid-morning snack and 2 iced buns each for pudding were a bit unneccessary!

zeno Wed 07-Aug-13 19:37:41

Two pronged approach worked here. ILs taking small person for an ice cream every single time they went out for a walk with her.

1. We pointed out that they were causing her distress, not making her happy, because they created an expectation (of ice cream every time near a shop) that could not and would not be fulfilled.

2. Teeth weakness means absolutely no chewy sweets ever.

I think the angle has to depend on the feeder. It took us a long time to find a way to get through to them about the ice creams. The last thing they would ever want is to make her unhappy, and I think they really hadn't realised that was the consequence of their behaviour.

peggyundercrackers Wed 07-Aug-13 14:36:46

dont lie to them blaming doc/dentist or whatever - thats pointless.

if its only once or twice a week it shouldnt be an issue and i would leave it alone - if it was every day then yes you need to do something about it.

NatashaBee Wed 07-Aug-13 13:49:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Caster8 Wed 07-Aug-13 13:20:54

I think what I would do is this. Actually as I started to write this, I slightly changed my mind.
At 8 and 10 your children are old enough to limit the amount of treats that they accept from the ils.
They wouldnt get it right every time. So it would be unfair to expect them too. But they are old enough, both of them, to realise that 3 magnums in a day is too much.
So actually, I would have a talk with your children. That way, the children say to the ils, that they are not allowed w x y and z, perhaps only y and z.

RenterNomad Wed 07-Aug-13 13:06:43

Also, try not to be The One Who Doesn't Give Sweets, or that will entrench the GPs' "special role" (bleigh), and you'll never get anywhere with them.

Any chance ypu (or the GPs) cpuld address the other side of this, with more exercise/time in the park away from the cookie jar?

solarbright Wed 07-Aug-13 12:11:26

I don't know if this will help, but my parents did the same. I managed to cut down on their sugar-fest but it was a long slog. I finally convinced them that the children love them anyway, with or without the sugar, and they don't love them or look forward to seeing them any less for the lack of cake. They're really, truly, not in it for the sweets. Also, I suggested that to spoil them they could buy them a magazine, or a small toy, every so often. My house is now filled with plastic tat bought by the grandparents, but they have honestly cut down on the sweets.

It kinda depends on the GPs' motivation.

newryan Wed 07-Aug-13 12:01:41

This really annoys me too. I think if you can, talk to the gps again and be very clear about what the dcs can have. I realise this is easier said than done. When we see my parents I make it clear to the dcs that they still need permission from me before accepting treats from the gps. But this is obviously not possible when I'm not there. My parents do an annoying but clever thing. They tell the dcs that there is ice cream, sweets, chocolate etc in the cupboard which they can have "if Mummy says it's ok." So that I have to be the mean one. Sometimes I say they can't which shocks the gps but they brought it on themselves!

I have chickened out of confrontation most of the time but we don't see the gps as much as the OP and also none of my dcs are overweight. I think if you are concerned about your dcs' weight you have to say something. However, just because dcs are not overweight doesn't mean all this junk is any better for them, it just means they can get away with it, for now.

RenterNomad Wed 07-Aug-13 10:45:29

"Teeth" is a great approach, but I would also stress "spoiling their supper", as that really is a matter of undermining you. #

Also, this may sound a bit disgusting, but bear with me: have the DC ever been with their GPs for a length of time which would allow changes to bowel movements? I recently took the DC away, and the amount of crap eating-out food we had ended up constipating both of them! And constipation/diarrhoea from eating crap might actually give the GPs pause, as it's clear evidence of treats which aren't "harmless", because the digestive system isn't coping with them.

Edendance Wed 07-Aug-13 10:37:55

I'm 27 and my Grandma still does this to me!!

It is a grandparents prerogative to spoil their grandchildren, and they often overfeed with treats. I'd let it go unless its causing a real problem- if it's only once or twice a week and they're eating healthily the other days it shouldn't be an issue, especially if they do plenty of exercising.

I wouldn't worry too much unless it actually is a problem.

bababababoom Wed 07-Aug-13 09:49:13

YANBU. My GP's were like this, I spent a lot of time with them, I did become overweight which led to problems with self esteem and bullying, and a distorted relationship with food that extended into adulthood.

I've had to really lay down the law with my parents about food. My children are allowed treats - but a mars bar isn't necessary - could you encourage the grandparents to give other kinds of treats that don't involve food? Maybe even agree a menu in advance - be specific rat
her then generally talking about "cutting down"?

I'm afraid that if they can't be more sensible about food, I would reduce their visits. Which would be sad as they'll get a lot out of having this time with their gp's.

ZolaBuddleia Wed 07-Aug-13 08:40:50

Yep, same here. Totally agree with that 'showing love by feeding' thing. My ILs do the same, DD comes back from her weekly day at their house with a Burger King or KFC toy without fail.

Nanny0gg Wed 07-Aug-13 08:25:06

If they are 8 and 10 I would definitely deal with by telling them they are not allowed more than one treat a day. They are old enough to manage this themselves..

Not fair. It puts them in the position of having to argue with their GPs.

Presumably they don't go to the cinema every time, so your example is a bit extreme?

It is too much, and it's worth trying to explain that a treat isn't a treat if it is the 'norm' IYSWIM.
However, one day out of seven? If you're making lifestyle changes over 6 days, it shouldn't have too much of an impact, surely?

Otherwise, if they won't listen, you tell them you'll have to make alternative arrangements...

Fairy130389 Wed 07-Aug-13 08:14:11

YADNBU!! I could have written this. MIL helps a lot with child are too, probably as much as yours do. My 8 year old is also a bit overweight and we are trying to monitor it. I had a chat wil GPs about healthy eating, watching treats etc, then, when we all stayed recently, we had breakfast, still in pjs, and I caught mil offering ICE CREAm! At 8am! Then I looked like an ogre when I intervened. No words of wisdom, I have just continued to drum in importance of healthy eating. Have a look at nhs choices website, they have a kid friendly one. I also had to show plate division to mil as her portion sizes were ridiculous for a child! Good luck!

MoonlightandRoses Tue 06-Aug-13 22:55:44

YANBU - any chance you could use the 'obesity risk' to have the discussion - in a 'the doctor has stated that DCs are at risk of becoming overweight so we need to cut down on all treats to xx variety/frequency and would value your support to do so...' type way?

HoikyPoiky Tue 06-Aug-13 22:50:03

If they are 8 and 10 I would definitely deal with by telling them they are not allowed more than one treat a day. They are old enough to manage this themselves.

hermioneweasley Tue 06-Aug-13 22:05:09

If it's only once a week I can't see it doing much harm

badbelinda Tue 06-Aug-13 22:01:16

DCs 8 and 10. Would probably still be given doughnuts etc and come home with healthy snacks in bottom of the bag!

ems1910 Tue 06-Aug-13 21:57:26

Can you pack a small bag for them with healthier treats included? I would find that my ILs and Mum wouldn't really reach for healthier alternatives that my son loves just as much. They might not know what else to give as snacks and instantly reach for the bad foods.

HarrietSchulenberg Tue 06-Aug-13 21:46:09

My mother and ILs do this too. My mum picks up my two youngest from school and every day she brings "a treat" with her, which is always sweets.
ILs feed a supply of mini-donuts, crisps, fizzy pop and other rubbish when dses visit them. I think it's a way of currying favour as they're keen to be seen as the favourite GPs.

formicadinosaur Tue 06-Aug-13 21:43:31

I would ask them to choose one day a week on which to give one sweet to each kid. There is no need for endless crap. In the long term it's habit forming and bad for health.

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