One of the trickiest parts of parenting, in our current culture, is finding alignment around food and screens.
In my experience, for many of us, so much work is needed to be able to show up in a ‘clean way,’ in those areas, that I might one day write a whole book on this topic!
But for now, I want to provide you with some of my thoughts around it.
Processed food and electronics are not natural
I am a huge proponent of trusting our children’s inner guidance and allowing them to make their own decisions when it comes to their personal experience which doesn’t affect other people. HUGE proponent.
But I don’t necessarily suggest it when it comes to food and electronics. Because the food our children now have access to and screens in general are very unnatural.
If we lived in the jungle, whether my children ate nuts, fruits, vegetables or meat, they’d be getting quality nutrients. Not so of the majority of food available in Western culture grocery stores.
Similarly, 50 years ago, whether my children would have chosen to play with dolls, sticks, a board game, ride on their bicycles, run around outside or engage with me in my household or outdoor activity, I’d know they’re engaged in something wholesome.
I don’t think that evolutionarily, which is the perspective through which I look at children, all humans are adapted to naturally gravitate to what’s best or right for them, considering the very addictive alternatives presented to them.
I don’t have an opinion on what is THE right answer when it comes to food or screens
Some trustworthy experts claim that certain foods and additives should be avoided at all costs if we’re to be healthy, whereas some others encourage us to eat a variety of foods in as close to their natural state as possible, but without making anything forbidden.
Some children do well on a wide variety of foods whereas some are deeply affected by even a smidgen of food additives or refined wheat. Some children are able to moderate themselves when it comes to what we’d consider unhealthy foods, and naturally balance their diets, whereas others will consistently choose THE least nutritious option available.
Similarly, with electronics, there are conflicting opinions in parenting philosophies I value. I’ve heard Waldorf educators talk about the importance of all screens being kept away from children. And I also know of unschooling experts who assert the importance of allowing children to make their own choices in regards to screens as well as everything else, and talk about the benefits of children using technology.
Some children when allowed full access to screens, just use them as part of the many things they engage in in their days, without it showing any detrimental effect. Some children seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on the computer, but as adults turn what might have seemed to us like an addiction into a rewarding career (you can read an awe inspiring example of this here.) Other children become obsessed with it, their interest in any other activity diminishes, and it affects their mood.
So my first piece of advice when it comes to food and screens is to look at your child.
How does he act when allowed full access to food and screens? How does he act when they are limited?
If you had no preconceived idea of what’s good and what isn’t, would there still be a problem?
Many of us have lots of (often unconscious) beliefs and fears that prevent us from thinking clearly when it comes to food and electronics. Parents I work with express irrational fears of their children becoming obese, sick, losers, having no personal drive, etc.
So part of the work I do with moms in my advanced programs is unpacking all those beliefs and fears, so that they could be questioned and seen through.
Nurturing their sense of self
If you’ve been following me a while, you’ve likely already heard me say many times that THE most important thing for you to focus on is your child’s sense of self.
I even recently said that it’s the #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 things to focus on.
Anything else you think is important to focus on comes in 13th place.
So this is true in light of this topic as well. If your child doesn’t feel good about himself, he’s much more likely to engage in addictive and numbing behaviors, to soothe his inner discomfort and to bring joy to himself in a way he’s able to.
Children don’t know how to say “Mom, I’m not feeling happy these days because I don’t feel loved by you. Could you please address me respectfully and act as though you’re on my team, so I can feel your love?”
They also may not know that the reason they’re not feeling good is because they’re still upset about something that happened 2 weeks ago or 5 years ago, or because they’re feeling displaced by their younger sibling. They’ll just be feeling unease, and look for a way to assuage it. Food and screens are often what they’ll reach for if it’s available.
I believe that when children feel good about themselves, have an inner sense of peace and well-being, they’re a lot less likely to reach for unhealthy foods or latch on to electronics in an unhealthy way.
Are his needs met?
Germaine to the previous point is considering if your child’s needs are met. Some of the primary ones I’d consider in the context of this discussion would be his needs for social interaction, for interesting activities, for fun and stimulation.
Even if your child has a strong sense of self, if the needs above aren’t met, he may reach for exciting foods or electronics to meet those needs.
For some guidance in raising children with a healthy sense of self and meeting their most
important needs, request my FREE report: "The Almost Magical Formula For Surprising Ease and
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Honor your inner guidance!
One of the biggest problems I see in parents who deeply want to honor and respect their children (this is rampant in unschooling communities,) is that parents do not honor their own guidance. Even when something feels off to them, they refuse to set limits and give authentic feedback.
My goal as a parent and a human is to get to a place where I respond to all situations from a place of self-connection and presence, being deeply attuned to the situation I’m in, free of beliefs and conditioning.
A big goal of unpacking our stuff, letting go of our conditioning and healing our baggage is to allow us to have access to that place, to our inner guidance, to the voice of truth inside of us, to live in alignment with life/God/the universe, whatever you call it.
DON’T IGNORE THAT VOICE!
We are social beings. The idea is not to never give feedback to others. It’s to do it in a way that’s respectful and honoring of the person, and that’s guided from truth, not fear or conditioning.
TIP: One question that can be helpful when you feel the urge to give someone feedback is to ask yourself what your motivation is. Does it feel personal, like for control, for them to be like you, to get attention, fear based? Or does it feel grounded and clear and true?
Back to our topic, the way honoring my inner guidance plays out in my relationships, including with my children, is that I’m attuned to my feelings and intuition, If I feel that something needs to be said or that something feels off, I name it.
So if what your children are eating or the way they’re engaging with electronics feels off, once you’ve unpacked your stuff around it and aren’t coming from a triggered or judgmental place, talk to them about it. Engage in an honest conversation, honor your guidance.
People respond to authenticity as opposed to attempts to be manipulated. Your realness, your honesty, your trust in your children and your open-mindedness are what will support you in coming up with an approach to food and screens that feels right to everyone.
I recognize that this isn’t easy. A lot of work might need to go into being able to have that open-minded conversation, both in terms of you clearing your stuff around the topic, and in terms of creating a relationship with your child where he really feels you’re on his team and values your feedback.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES, to put the info from the article into practice: