Life for my kids is very different than when I was growing up. I won’t even count the differences. But I will tell you, I’ve had it with snacks. It is impossible in this country to go more than two hours without someone offering my children a snack. Notes come home from school reminding me to pack a snack for my child. Sign-up sheets for snack rotations are circulated for team sports schedules. A two-hour swim at the pool with friends includes crackers, two kinds of fruit, pizza, cupcakes, and two kinds of beverages. (I am not exaggerating.)
Never mind the obesity epidemic in this country. I’m talking about the incessant whine of “I’m hungry,” or “I’m thirsty.” When I hear this from my kids, I tell them it’s a first world problem. Neither of my children have ever gone a day without eating. In fact, they’ve never missed a meal in their lives. There is easy access to clean drinking water literally everywhere they go.
So when they tell me they just can’t wait the 5 minutes or even 30 minutes to get home to drink water, or wait 30 minutes or an hour for a meal, I don’t feel very sympathetic. They’ve been trained to always be satiated. When I have tried to take a stand out of principle and not provide snacks, I get chastised or tsk-tsk’ed, and another adult provides an extra snack to my child.
But here’s the thing. It’s not just food I’m talking about here. I’m talking about how we’re raising a generation of children to constantly be satiated. There is no discomfort at all. These children are not resilient because they don’t have to be. The second they feel discomfort, someone swoops in and saves the day. Goldfish crackers. Juice boxes. Fruit snacks.
I want my kids to know what it feels like to be hungry. I want my kids to feel agitated. I want my kids to feel uncertain. I want my kids to feel anxious. I want my kids to feel angry. I want my kids to feel sadness. I want my kids to know what it feels like to not get what they want, when they want it. I want my kids to be uncomfortable.
Not because I’m a sadist. But because life brings all of those things. If they don’t learn how those feelings feel now, if they don’t learn how to identify those feelings now, how will they learn how to cope with those feelings later?
I refuse to allow my kids to feel satiated constantly. Like there’s no worry in the world. See, there are worries in the world. There are families all over the world, and in this country, that go to bed hungry every day. They need to know this, and be grateful for what they do have.
They also need to know what a bad feeling or frustration is. They need to learn to sit in that bad feeling or disappointment. They need to learn that those bad feelings and anxious ruminations won’t consume them and destroy them, They need to know they’ll survive bad feelings. If they don’t, they’ll look for easy ways out–drugs, alcohol, other dysfunctional coping mechanisms like whining or passive-aggresiveness or out-of-control anger or emotional eating.
I also want them to hunger. For something. To look outside of yourself and seek. Desire. Then learn to problem solve a solution. When you’re trained to be passive and offered comfort on a regular basis, you get complacent and dependent. So please, show you care and don’t feed the animals.