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dandelionmom

What Do You Say To Food-pushing Grandparents?

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We have two separate grandparent problems:

1. Julia has lost a lot of weight and had very little appetite before her diagnosis. My parents are so excited to see Julia eating that they've started praising her like mad when she takes a bite of anything around them. They've even resorted to bribery. Can you say "eating disorder" in the making?! Ugh. I nicely tried to ask them to stop but I almost think they can't help themselves! Any suggestions?

2. My in-laws kept trying to make Julia eat things even after I told them it wasn't a safe food for her to eat (Rice Krispie treats, they kept insisting it was just rice so was fine and ice cream, she is dairy-free right now). They actually picked a little fight with me, in front of Julia. I'm worried that if they keep questioning me regarding foods for her she'll get very confused and won't know who to trust anymore. And it just pissed me off ~ but that is another issue! :) So does anyone else have to deal with something like this? How do you handle it?

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UGH...What a situation.

FOr the first one, maybe you need to take your mom and dad aside and just explain to them that pushing her to eat when she may not want any, is not a great idea. That is could really upset her stomach. It takes awhile for it to heal. She knows her body and when she's hungry. Let her take her time. I wouldn't even bring up the future eating disorder that it's heading for, but focus on the now and how she feels physically?

As for the second, you need to put your foot down. I know it's hard with in-laws, but let them know you are in charge of her diet and no one else. End of story. I had a similar situation with my in-laws about a whole separate issue and when I was so just "no discussion" about it - they dropped it and have tried their best not to interfere...

Good luck.. :)

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The following response represents my opinion only. :)

As for problem #1: It depends. Are you willing to undergo a little mutual hurt feelings to get them to stop? A lot of grandparents come from a generation where "good eaters" are praised and "cleaning your plate" is even better. I could go either way on this... the grandparents probably aren't going to have as much effect on her "eating personality" as you and her eventual teenage peers. And yet, once you've told your parents your opinion on a childcare issue, it really is important that they defer to you.

As for problem #2: TAKE NO PRISONERS! If your in-laws can't support the diet to the letter, they can't see her, period. Especially if they are going to fight with you about it right in front of her. If you aren't ready to make that kind of ultimatum, remind them that untreated celiac puts her at greater risk of CANCER. Ask them if they themselves are willing to eat a rice crispie treat/cookie/whatever that may or may not have been dipped in poison. Or just put them on diarrhea duty until they get the idea. ;)

I hope problem #2 is just a passing phase, certainly they as grandparents want her to be healthy! As for problem #1, I think it's just generational difference (although be sure to put your foot down if you perceive a future food-emotion problem!)

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I agree with Zarfkitty. The praise for "good eating" is probably a generational thing. My mom tends to do it. I have said to her, on numerous occasions, "She will eat when she is hungry." She gets the point, but later falls back into her old habits and I have to remind her again. I've chosen not to make a big issue out of it, but my mom lives several states away from us, so it's not a constant battle. I might decide differently if it were happening more often.

I also agree with the "TAKE NO PRISONERS" approach for your in-laws. I'm going through a weird and rather nasty struggle with my in-laws right now that is similar. They refuse to educate themselves about the gluten-free diet, but want to cook for us or bring a dish when we invite them to dinner. I assigned my m-i-l salad duty last weekend, thinking to myself that it was "safe." She brought a homemade vinaigrette - oops - and when I questioned her about the specific ingredients, she got very huffy and said "It's only salad dressing." I calmly persisted, and made her tell me everything that she'd put in the dressing. It was, as it turned out, gluten-free. I didn't let her get smug, though. I decided that it was an appropriate time to "draw the line" for her, and said "This is what I have to do every time I cook. I will NEVER knowingly give my dd gluten, nor will I allow someone else to do so." I followed that with a challenging stare, and she got the message. This whole gluten-free thing has damaged my relationship with my in-laws....but if that's what it takes to keep my dd safe, then so be it. My m-i-l mentioned recently that she wants to have us over for dinner soon....I suspect it will be a show-down of notable proportions, lol!

Good luck to you!

Rho

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I agree with everyone's responses for both problems 1 and 2, but I'd like to ask one question regarding problem #2: Where does your husband stand on this? If I had a problem with my in-laws regarding the diet, it wouldn't just be me talking to them about it. My husband saw first hand just how sick our son was; since I had to stay home with our 3 day old newborn daughter, it was my husband who was with our son during his 2 day/2 night hospital stay. I wouldn't have to fight; if my in-laws didn't get it the first time when I nicely explained to them the problem, Dean would take over from that point, like when his dad got upset when I told him he couldn't share his water bottle with his grandson because he was eating a gluten-filled sandwich. And vice versa. I'm the one who deals with my own mother's comments like, "maybe (your son) is getting more sensitive to gluten because you're not exposing him enough to it." I nipped that one in the bud right away. I can't say our relationships with our own parents are strengthened because of the struggles, but in the end each of us are better capable to handle our own parents than our "in-laws" because we know our own parents.

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Where does your husband stand on this? If I had a problem with my in-laws regarding the diet, it wouldn't just be me talking to them about it.

My husband isn't around much ~ he travels a lot for work and even when he is around, he's not good with his parents. There are some communication issues there.

As hard as it is going to be, I think you're all right about the "no prisoners" (LOL!) strategy with the in-laws. It was very upsetting to argue with them in front of my daughter (especially since I'm pretty sure she knows the argument was about her).

I think the my parents would respond well to the idea that Julia is healing. That might be just the thing to get the to stop and think.

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Good advice so far from everyone!

With your parents, I would tell them that you know that they have the best intentions, but that in your daughter's case, it is actually destructive. Give them guidelines as to what YOU KNOW works, and insist that they stick with it for a specified period--say, 2 months--after which point you will reevaluate and discuss it with them again. Emphasize that you know how much they care and how hard they are trying, but that your daughter simply isn't reacting in the way that your parents expected, and that things are so serious, you really must be in control of the situation.

With your in-laws, explain that this is potentially a VERY serious situation, like a peanut allergy (even though technically it isn't an allergy). If you have to, get a note from the doctor's office (if you have an understanding MD, they will write a note for any caregiver or anyone in the position of giving her food). You could also download official lists of "unsafe" foods like Rice Krispies, so that they can't argue.

I wouldn't hesitate to tell them that, according to DOCTORS, this is so serious that if your in-laws can't follow the instructions, that they will only be able to visit your daughter at your house, because her health is more important than their feelings.

Again, it's always best to start by saying that you know how much they care, and how hard they are trying (even if they aren't trying), blah, blah, blah, but the bottom line is your daughter's health. They haven't done the research; you have.

You can also invite them to your house to make gluten-free goodies like cupcakes, gluten-free rice krispy treats, etc., and give them a bunch to keep in their freezer for treats, so they don't feel overwhelmed by having to read labels (which is VERY difficult for anyone who is starting to need reading glasses!). You DID give them safe foods to keep for Julia, not just a list, right?

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My husband isn't around much ~ he travels a lot for work and even when he is around, he's not good with his parents. There are some communication issues there.

I empathize! That is *exactly* my situation - hubby travels, doesn't communicate well with his parents. It's no fun being the one to have to stand up to everyone, all the time....though I must say it's getting easier for me.... and it's even empowering at times, when I know I've taken the high road and done a good job.

Rho

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You DID give them safe foods to keep for Julia, not just a list, right?

Good point! I brought Julia's food (she was eating a gluten-free cupcake when all this happened) but I didn't bring a list. Maybe if I bring a list they'll realize how involved all of this is!

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I supply my child's food, end of discussion. This child is not permitted to eat anything unless I bring it for the child. My ILs are so stupid, I would not trust them. My MIL is not capable of understanding. My ds has been df since birth and he would get 'worse' diarhea and I'd ask what he ate with them. Answer "mashed potatos" Did you make those with milk "yes". He Can't have milk. "oh, I forgot" :angry:

My mother makes comments about my dd eating too much. A disorder in the making. We don't see them often enough for me to make a huge deal out of it.

For that ILs moved far far away and we have not seen them in several years THANK GOD!

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Just wanted to say you moms are doing the right thing.

In my family it is the opposite, I am the gluten-free grandmother & they all think I am nuts, although I have a grandson that tested positive at Enterolab & has double DQ1 & had failure to thrive as an infant. he is 11 now. 3 years ago, I spent about $1000.00 for cookbooks, all tupperware, food, new things for the kitchen, all lunch kits, thermoses & stuff for 3 kids & dil...& a lot of time getting the grandkids gluten-free & my dil, but my son refused & after 5 months made them go back to eating gluten, I know they are just stupid & uneducated, & flat out do not care... Of course my son has gluten intolerance also & already has liver damage (unexplained, yea right). My dil has it also & has depression, (she has taken antidepressants for years) overweight, dyslexia...

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Good point! I brought Julia's food (she was eating a gluten-free cupcake when all this happened) but I didn't bring a list. Maybe if I bring a list they'll realize how involved all of this is!

Just to play Devil's Advocate here, the labels on many food products have such tiny print, I can't read them myself without a magnifying glass--and I don't need reading glasses (yet) for anything else, like the newspaper or books! I can only imagine that someone older than I would just give up if he or she had to suddenly read labels.

So, if you print out a list for them, make it large print, and make it organized, so that it's practically idiot-proof! :D

I remember how daunting it all seemed when I first got started, and also how much in denial I wanted to be!

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Just have a meeting with them with both parents and let them know how serious it is and educate them remember how you were when you just found out you had to learn every thing and still learning . I am celiac and a grandparent they don't want to hurt any child they just want to love them and help out with them. Grandparents are very importmant in these kids lives and would't help your child to get every body mad and not have the grandparent relationship any more. Get them some things to read and learn about it They want what is best for the child so just keep explaining and talking it over remember they came from the old school as every body says . But I don't beleive they want to hust any body . I know my grandkids would be lost without us they want to spend the night about 3 times a week. Amd they are our life and our furture thank you

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Julia, and everyone else whose significant other isn't around a lot due to work or any other valid (or invalid :) ) reason, I'm sorry that the brunt of this has to be left to you. I know what it's like - it would be great if both of you could be full time parents all the time, but money has to come from somewhere. So inevitably, one parent has to take the brunt of the "parenting" work while the other does the majority of the "paid" work. I do most of the research, shopping, and cooking, in large part because my husband does most of the "paid" work for our household, but when it comes to emotional support for our children and each other it is very shared. And I'm lucky enough that my husband and I both work from home. And I understand communication issues with parents - I definitely suffer from that quite a bit. But when it comes to our children's health, I just suck it up and stick to my guns. Then again, I've been doing this for going on two years in December, so I've definitely gotten better at it now that I've gotten so much practice :)

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Could you show them the label on the Rice Crispy Treat Box....or if they are homemade show them the label for the rice cripies that says "Barley Malt". Yes, to them, they probably think rice is okay, not even realizing that an ingredient in the cereal could be an issue.

It's hard. I hope you get it worked out. I know how hard it is for ME, as an adult, to stand up for myself in regards to Celiac.

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I can sympathize with the fine print on labels, making mistakes in the beginning, etc. Of course most grandparents only want the best for their grandkids. The thing that raised my hackles was that the in-laws in question picked a fight about rice crispies right in front of the child. That really is another issue entirely... more of a power struggle than a genuine concern for a grandchild's health. Unfortunately, this is common in relationships.

So far, so good with my parents and in-laws. But if any of them wanted to pick a fight about unsafe foods right in front of my daughter, I'd pull rank IMMEDIATELY. I don't have time or energy to re-teach everything I've already taught my little girl about eating safely, and such behavior on the part of an authority figure (grandparent) would be confusing.

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With #1 I would say, it's never ok to bribe a child with food. Grandparents or not. They need to know about this and that they shouldn't do it.

#2 I'd also say 'no prisoners'. The health of your child is way more important than their feelings. So I would talk to them about this. You can take the rice krispies box (mentioned earlier) as an example of that other ingredients can be the culprit, too. And if they don't understand, then they can only see the child, when you are around. Period. <_< Well, and if they are getting it slow but sure, I would try and throw little bits at them once in a while, so that they gain more and more understanding over time. The entire subject might be too much at one time. Especially, when they are older already, then learning new stuff sometimes gets more difficult...

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I had some trouble with my ILs when the kids and I first went gluten free. They would make comments and try to give them food with gluten in it anyway. I stood my ground (without fighting with them about it) and finally sent (emailed) DH some info about gluten intolerance to give them. It sometimes helps to have someone on your side so you aren't the only "crazy" one. They finally got it and now explain gluten intolerance to other people. They have also changed from buying cakes for every birthday to buying flan. It might take a while but hopefully your parents and ILs will get it.

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