22 December 2007

The Great Candy Debate

Yesterday marked what seems like the eleventy-millionth time I've had to address the issue of too much candy with Avery. I can't remember when it started . . maybe around Halloween . . but the kid is OBSESSED with candy. We made a 2-piece of candy per day rule in order to try to "be fair", but that just caused her to hide extra candy under her bed and eat it at will when she was up in her room. Then, just as that stash ran down December rolled around and the Advent Trees went up. These, if you're not familiar, are quilted trees with a piece of candy tied on for each day in December before Christmas. It's a tradition we had when we were kids growing up and that I don't remember ever being the highlight of our day the way they are with my girls. But what do I know?

Anyway, I'm not even sure how it came up but yesterday Ave let it slip that she had some candy hidden under her bed. I was busy keeping Lily away from the presents under the tree at the time, so it almost slipped past me completely, but when I realized what she'd said I kind of flipped out a little bit. Apparently her teacher had sent her home with a little bag full of candy after school today and she didn't want to give it up. I can understand that, but she knows about the 2-piece per day rule, and she knows how I feel about her hiding things from us. Was I wrong to be upset? I have been telling Avery for almost a month now that her obsession with candy and sweets is disturbing to me, and that after the Advent Tree was finished there wasn't going to be any candy kept in the house. Her dental work is already costing us a fortune and I don't in any way think that saying "no" to candy is unreasonable.

The fight comes from Mandi, who thinks that being too strict about it is going to lead to eating disorders and rebellious eating habits when Ave gets to be old enough to choose and pay for her own meals. Simply, zero candy = resentment = I'll get you back some day = obsessed about food = bulemia = anorexia nervosa = 83 pounds at 18 years old = heroin addict who purges 4 times a day in the McDonalds parking lot. I personally have a hard time going down that slippery slope. I think kids need to be told the ancient word every now and then and get over the idea that they're entitled to have whatever the hell they want. The ancient word? NO! We don't allow weapons . . is she going to become a serial killer to spite us? We don't allow skanky (read: typical) clothes . . will she become a stripper? I really don't think so. We are the parents, you are the child, you need to live with the fact that the rules aren't always going to be liked. Am I really far off base? I feel like by not punishing her for the deceit by tightening the restrictions we're giving her the green light to circumvent the guidelines in the future. Mandi says "I'd rather not fight about food because I don't want it to be an issue." I say candy is not food. I've tried to stop fighting with Ave about her choice to not eat whatever meals are put in front of her. I concede that it's her problem if she's hungry, we try to offer healthy snacks, and I make sure her lunches are big and full of things I know she'll eat. So I feel like on the subject of junk, like candy, I'm being reasonable to have "strict" restrictions. Or is it really possible that something like this can cause lead to lashing out and rebelling down the road? I'd like some honest comments and feedback about this. I can handle being wrong about it, but I'm going to have to be convinced.


Anonymous said...

This is a tough one....I just had to go back & read my 50 things we love most about our mom list....#27 "You never let us have sugary cereals or crappy food , and that taught us good nutrition habits at an early age". Everything in moderation is a good idea. You are the parents...keep acting like it. There is a HUGE payoff! Trust me...I know!

Jaime said...

I don't know what to tell you. My nickname was "Jaime the junkfood junkie" I think I turned out ok.

Aunt C said...

A#1: I can't tell you how many times per week, month, year...that I silently thank Mom and God that we grew up not surrounded by junk food and sodas and candy bars on a regular basis.
B#2: You hide things that you know are wrong and a 7 year old hiding things from her parents is punishable to the nth degree...in my mind.
C#3: I'm with you on this one, but I don't think a "no candy ever" rule is realistic.

Ex PoconoDougin said...

Everything in moderation is the key CJ. My tendency is to think you are a bit obsessed with this whole issue. If you don't treat it like a big issue, they won't think it is either. They are still dealing with baby teeth anyway aren't they? Next month they will probably be into expensive toys. You best save your energy for issues like, sex, drugs, alcohol, and Rock and Roll. That's where the challenges come in. My Matt was into tree climbing for heaven sakes...Relax, you're still a young Dad!!!