When it comes to eating sugar and making bad choices, a Study Says Dads Give More Junk Food To Their Kids. Is this also true in your family? What makes them so quick to give in to their children’s sweet tooth? More important, what can we nutrition-conscious moms do to stop dad from wreaking havoc on our carefully constructed meal plan for our kids? Read on to find out.
Dads Give More Junk Food To Their Kids
It is a natural instinct to protect our kids. We always want the best for them. And one of mom’s priorities is good nutrition. We know how bad sugar is for our kid’s health, and we try to limit it as much as we can. But dads are in general, way more relaxed when it comes to food. Leave your kids alone with dad and they end up eating pizza or a burger with fries for dinner. Oh, and ice cream or cupcakes for dessert!
Research says dads give more junk food
According to Priya Fielding-Singh, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Stanford University, dad is the one who lets his kids have junk food. Interesting to see that a real study was done on this topic.
Fielding-Singh interviewed 44 families that had at least one teenage son or daughter. Her goal was to learn about their overall eating habits and find out whether they changed depending on which parent was in charge at the time. It turns out, in an astonishing 93 percent of cases, both the kids and mom said dad’s food quality standards were low. Bottom line: Dads give more junk food to their kids.
Why are dads so quick to give their kids junk food?
As Fielding-Singh wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle: “In my research, when it came to modeling good eating habits, dad was found to be the “fun” parent. Dad didn’t force Brussels sprouts down anyone’s throat, and children could always count on dad for junk food. As one teenager also told me, “If I want some chips or cookies, I’ll ask my dad to get them for me. Then, my mom usually finds out and gets mad.” Does it sound familiar?
Short version, dad wants to be the “fun” parent. This explanation tracks with what we learned in Dads Don’t Babysit Kids, They Raise Them: Dads have a different sort of bond with kids, Paul Roberts explains on Psychology Today. His interactions are often more playful and lighthearted. So, it makes sense that he’d be the one to offer up the sweet treats.
Interestingly, when it comes to adulthood, many kids view their father’s health habits as a cautionary tale, according to a 2019 Ohio State University study. While it’s nice to know that all those lessons in healthy eating paid off in the long run, it doesn’t do much good now, when dad is handing out big cones of ice-cream every day.
Why are mothers more concerned about healthy eating?
So how is it moms can read food labels, make sure food has a high nutritional value and get those greens on the plate? Fielding-Singh has an answer to this question. “Feeding and caring for children’s health is central to motherhood. Moms are continually judged — by themselves and society — by how they feed their families.”
So it is really a matter of involvement. Dads think it is our role as mothers to be the ones in charge of the children’s nutritional needs. Many dads also believe mom is a more of a natural in the kitchen. They feel her maternal instincts which makes for a greater understanding of a child’s dietary needs.
Dads should take more active roll in families’ healthy eating
Fielding-Singh also said that many moms wished they could let their little ones rely on their dad more often when it came to meal time, but they worried the meals would be unhealthy and lacking in nutrition. Fathers really should take more active roll when it comes to healthy eating. So, how do we make that happen? Simple. Talk to him!
All dads genuinely want their kids to be healthy. No father says to himself, “How can I wreck my child’s health today?” Well, no good father, of course. Unless he spent hours researching the right and wrong things to feed kids alongside you, he may not even be aware of the problem. It’s not unreasonable for him to think that cereal made for children is actually good for children. He also probably thinks he’s doing the right thing by giving kids sugar-free diet drinks, not knowing that it’s loaded with dangerous artificial sweeteners.
Remember, like you, he was raised before we learned all the terrifying facts about “bad” ingredients. To him, a cookie is just a cookie. So, have a real conversation. Don’t make accusations or place blame, just sit down and talk. Involve him in your monthly meal planning and invite his input. Let him be a real part of this aspect of parenting.
How is it in your family? In our home, dad is usually the one who gives in and lets them eat candy. I am the “mean mom” who hides the sugar from the party favors and doesn’t let them have all the junk they want.
I understand that kids eat junk sometimes and that is okay with me. When we go out or go to a party, weekends, or simply when we go out, nothing is off limits. I let my kids have whatever they want. But at home it is a different story. I want to teach them healthy eating habits and I try my best to offer them healthy food options. If you are interested please see 5 Tips For Raising Healthy Non-Picky Eaters. It really works for us.