Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Another Beeping Rewrite

Conversation #2:

(overheard on a street in Manhattan between a little girl, maybe 5- or 6-years-old, and her father)

“Daddy, I’m hungry.”

“Well, that’s a shame, since you had ample opportunity to eat earlier.”

The rewrite of Dad’s response:

“I’m sorry I couldn’t design an eating environment in sync with your internal signals. I recognize, though, that hunger (especially at your age, when emotional eating hasn’t had much time to develop) is largely a biological process and that, often, your hunger will not coincide with the meals we, as your parents, provide. It’s important, though, to continue to honor your hunger (lest you develop an eating disorder later on), and for this reason, I think we should get you something to eat (we’re on the streets of Manhattan—this can’t be too difficult a task). Looking ahead, I’ll make a note to always bring snacks along so that you don’t feel so hungry again. In the future, I promise to validate your experiences (both physiological and emotional) and to avoid use of such erudite phrases as “ample opportunity” until you’re at least nine or ten.”

9 comments:

PalmTreeChick said...

Feed the poor kid!! They can predict when they are going to be hungry. hmmm.

ps22 said...

That's just sad.

Shaunta said...

I have this paranoia that I often have to bite back. I'm really afraid that people will see how fat I am, and if I'm feeding my kids at an off time (or even at a meal time) I think that they'll judge me. I remember when I was pregnant with my first baby at age 20 (and about 125 pounds lighter than I am now) praying that my baby would be small...that I wouldn't have a fat baby that people would judge me on. I was so happy when Adrienne weighed 6 pounds, and made a huge point of telling anyone who would listen. She's 13 now, and a normal weight. My baby Ruby is a big baby...almost 10 pounds at birth and now 35 pounds or so at 18 months. Not fat, just big. And I'm loving it. I guess wisdom does come with age.

allisonsky said...

Hi Doctor Stacey,
Any smart parent would NEVER leave the house without a snack (goldfish, fruit, etc) because kids eat and burn off the energy real fast. Some parents are obsessive compulsive and stick to a bedtime and eating routing from birth, trying to have control over other people. Unfortunately,a lot of the children of these people resent them down the line; because they feel like they were controlled and not loved. This is actually the start of a person's eating and sleeping disorder.A small percentage will go on, have their own children (negative love syndrome)and will do the same thing to their own children without realizing it. It all goes back to the parent's need of control. And DAMMIT I have two children and have relinquished all control, realizing that trying to control bed and eating times makes for a very UNHAPPY family.(within reason, obviously you want your kids to get the right amount of sleep, eat healthy, and have a small amount of sweets each day; as to not crave it and binge when they are away from the parent.)

Haley-O said...

That's so sad....Food is one of the most problematic and manipulated concepts in our culture--starting with the powerful ways in which it figures in our childhoods.

drstaceyny said...

Shaunta--people will always judge. It seems, though, that you've gotten to a better place with that possibility in your description of Ruby.

AS--sounds like you have a good parenting philosophy. Congrats on incorporating some (psychologically) healthy eating techniques with your kids and for yourself (from last post).

Teacher lady said...

Well, I have no doubt that poor little girl will be telling her therapist that story in years to come. What IS that? I remember hearing all the time growing up, "You have to eat now, or you'll be hungry later." And what? If I'm hungry later the world will come to a screeching halt? Or, one of my LEAST favorites (but most OFTEN heard): "Grandma went through all this trouble to make you this nice lunch/dinner/whatever. You have to eat it or she'll feel bad. You don't want to make her FEEL bad, do you?" Thanks, Mom, for really messing with my true hunger signals. On the other hand, she was just trying to get me to be sensitive to other people's feelings - I get it. But perhaps that's an issue for your SECOND book, Dr. Stacey. WHY so much focus on socializing little girls to worry so much about OTHER people's feelings, to the detriment of their own (including or even especially feelings of hunger?)

Ali said...

while i agree that for young children the idea of eating 3 squares a day is ridiculous...that's just not how they work..., i completely disagree that 5-year-old haven't discovered the idea of "emotional eating"
my 5-year-old eats because she's bored. she tells me she's hungry 24 hours a day (well, minus the few when she's sleeping). i spend my day in a perpetual "mommy, i'm starving." even though she really isn't starving and eats a LOT of food.

so, if you had seen me on the street, i may have said the same exact thing to my daughter, because i've been known to say it at times. not because i'm a terrible mother, but because there's only so many times during the day that you can listen to your child whine about being hungry, even though she hasn't stopped eating since she woke up...

annie said...

A thought to Ali--I think (at least for myself) emotional eating is different from eating from boredom. I'd always prefer to eat to replenish my body, but if I snack because I'm upset and it soothes me, it is because at the moment I know of no alternative, even though there probably is one. I don't like it when I eat because I'm bored because there are so many other choices I could make. If you know your child is bored, maybe you could come up with some stimulating activity for her to do instead. I don't like it when I use eating as something to do. That might be a really important message to send at her age.