About a month ago, I got into a heated argument with my mother. Yes, the woman who gave birth to me, the woman who never served me a frozen meal in my life, and the same woman who spoils her grandchildren to no end. The problem? My children were spending the weekend at her house and she fed them McDonald’s for lunch.
“McDonald’s?!” I squealed into the phone. “Mom, how could you do this to me?!?”
Because, naturally, anyone with wifi access will tell you that fast food is the devil’s meal and that given the alarming rate of obesity in our country, we need to chill with our deep-fried Oreo doughnut holes. Kids with bad eating habits oftentimes grow up to be adults with bad eating habits.
But it was too late. The kids ate their chicken nuggets, absolutely loved the Minions figurine, and devoured their fries like they were air. The kids were happy, which according to grandma, was all that mattered. Meanwhile, I was left worrying they’d become future diabetics. All because of one Happy Meal.
I have this same issue with my mother-in-law, too. We visited her last month for a two-week stay, and what’s the first thing she does? She hands my children bags full of candy, chocolates, and lollipops, not to mention the ice cream she had stored in the fridge.
I mean, I know it’s a grandparent’s job to spoil our children, but give me a break here. (And no, not a Kit-Kat one.)
If it seems easy to blame my children’s eating habits on their grandparents, it’s because it is. And I’m not the only person who seems to think so. According to a new study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, children in China are increasingly growing more overweight — and it’s all their grandparents’ fault.
The study’s lead author, Bai Li, says that many Chinese grandparents believe fat children are healthy and that obesity-related disease strikes only adults. What’s more, grandparents often overfeed and overindulge their “little emperors” and excuse them from doing any household chores that could give them some physical exercise.
I don’t have to travel to China to tell you that the above statement is completely true, or at least when it comes to my family. No, my children aren’t obese (they’re far from it), but that doesn’t mean their grandmothers have the right of way to feed them whatever they want, whenever they want. Grandparents can too be considered “parents” (as their title implies), and regular restrictions can sure come in handy whenever we drop the kiddos off for a weekend. And by that, I mean laying off on the lollipops and dropping the all-access iPad time when mom and dad aren’t around.
Now, I know I shouldn’t blame my children’s bad habits on their grandparents. After all, they don’t see them very often to begin with. Our children are under our care full-time, meaning the only chance they’ll ever eat a McDonald’s meal in front of me is if we are in China (and that’s not happening anytime soon). There will be moments in their lives where they’ll enjoy gluttonous, calorific meals of their dreams, but for the most part, I’d rather have them eat their fruits and veggies.
As far as their next trip to grandma’s, I don’t think anything will change. I can argue with my mother day and night, but in her mind, her grandchildren get an all-access pass to break all of mommy’s rules in her house. She once told me that her love for her grandchildren is completely different than her love for her children and that she would rather make effortless and easy memories without the stress that comes with parenting. So yes, my kids can count on that double-fudge chocolate brownie sundae at her house while a bowl of freshly steamed carrots and broccoli will be waiting at home.
And plus, who am I kidding? Eh, I’ll probably end up doing the same with my little emperors one day, too.