When I was first introduced to grandparenting I had to adjust to rules my children set for their children's snacks at my house. One family did not want their toddler to eat certain sweets; the other forbade individual portions of boxed juice drinks. I was fine with their decisions; I just had to remember who approved of what lest I offer juice drinks to the wrong grandchild.
My experience was in keeping with what my friends were telling me: Their children were setting down food rules for grandchildren that were bewildering to grandparents. What's wrong with home-baked chocolate chip cookies?
I mention this because a recent letter to Carolyn Hax is a man-bites-dog variation on this theme. The complaint comes from a mother whose parents are serving her children super-healthy meals that the children won't eat. The grandparents refuse to supply snacks that would assuage the children's hunger, which occasionally causes meltdowns. The mother/reader continues:
"While the food may seem healthier at the grandparents’, I don’t like the amount of control the grandparents hold over the food for everyone else. Isn’t the point of a holiday to eat, drink and be merry? Do you have a food solution for when families of different generations and geographies come together that could help keep everyone sane?"
Here we are with tables turned. The grandparents aren't baking sugar-loaded cookies and letting their grandchildren snack on them all day; they are setting healthy eating standards that are over and beyond those of the parental household. So, is there a way to keep everyone sane about food? Here's part of what Hax has to say. Spoiler alert: Hax does not pour the blame on us:
If your kids are physically, medically or religiously able to eat what the grands serve and simply choose not to, then you have a straightforward path: Recognize that it’s not your place to parachute into the grandparents’ house with pallets of cheesy poofs. If their nutritional orthodoxy strains their bonds with the kids, then that’s a natural consequence the grands can perceive and address for themselves.