Candy for Dinner

Before I was a mom, I was an emotional support teacher. I used my extensive training in behavior modification to shape my philosophy of parenting. I remember going to a conference hosted by Dr. Ross Greene, who is known for his techniques in dealing with the most difficult children. One fact that he shared really stuck with me. He told about the two ways that children have ultimate control over their parents: eating, and going to the bathroom. He then went on to caution the audience about engaging in food battles with your children, because they will ultimately win. My pediatrician also shared this philosophy, so I have tried to follow it as well.

I believe this approach has been successful in my family, so I do not fight about food. Don’t get me wrong, though. There are rules and expectations. I also try to teach my girls about the value of nutrition and what effects certain foods have on their bodies. Having daughters, I feel this is even more important, since our society will bombard them with mixed messages.

As a mom, I have tried to take a balanced approach, but with those efforts, came an unconventional tradition in our home…CANDY FOR DINNER!!! Yes, on November 1st, we do the unthinkable!

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I am not sure when it started, or how it came to be. Maybe a temporary insanity, or a generous spirit, perhaps a moment of personal weakness as I struggled to resist Almond Joys…irregardless, it is now the tradition for the day after Halloween.

For one day, my kids have the coolest mom.

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Now, I am not totally irresponsible. This tradition comes with a catch. They can have a few pieces of candy for dinner, but it is understood that they will eat their veggies for dessert.

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This has been the tradition for about five years now. It was this year, though, that the benefit of this unconventional wisdom became clear. I found that despite the hype and excitement, none of my girls finished their “dinner”, before jumping on dessert. They dove into their broccoli before finishing their chocolate, and that was just fine with me. It was a mother’s dream to hear my oldest scold my youngest for stealing her broccoli, suggesting that she eat her own celery instead. Clearly, these were not my REAL children! But in fact, they were.

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What I will hold onto, and carry forward in my mom “bag of tricks” is that every once in a while, it is good to let go of control, and let your kids loose. It is the greatest reward when you get to watch them choose the right path, without your prodding.

Dinner was fun, candy was served, but broccoli and celery were eaten. On this night, I didn’t feel much like a fairy, but more of a witness to something magical!

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