When would Indians understand that there are a zillion ways to show love to a child than offering chocolates
My daughter started gorging on all the sugary sweets, in spite of me asking her to avoid it. She would tell me, “When my grandparents are telling me to eat, why are you telling me not to eat”.
“Your Mummy is not here, eat it quickly”
As I entered my house, I overheard my mother-in-law telling my daughter.
Being a Marwari, food was/is the top most priority for us. I was married into a big joint family, where discussions about food never ended.
My mother-in-law showered so much love on me, and the only way she did it was by feeding, forcing, and overstuffing me with food.
If I did not eat all the items on the menu at home, I was pleaded and forced to eat that one item I missed because it was very tasty and made well. This went on for quite some time till I put on 12 kgs by my 1st wedding anniversary. It kept on repeating until I had enough of it.
Finally, I started being firm with a straight ‘NO’, being mean and reminding her again and again of the weight I put on. It worked and gradually I was allowed to eat the quantity I wished to eat.
This kind of forcing is called ‘MANWAAR’ in the Marwari community, where the guests or newcomers at home are fed and overstuffed with food, out of love, especially the Marwari delicacies consisting of rich, high fat and sugary sweets.
Love for food, food for love!
This tradition passed on to my daughter, who was pampered by her grandparents tremendously by offering her sweets, chocolates, pastries, cakes, cookies, etc.
Whenever they went out or travelled, they would get back chocolates, sweets etc for her. My daughter started gorging on all the sugary sweets, in spite of me asking her to avoid it. She would tell me, “When my grandparents are telling me to eat, why are you telling me not to eat”.
At the age of 6, she was overweight, with the pediatrician yelling at me for my ignorance. My in-laws and husband being diabetics for quite some years gave me a chill down my spine.
I knew sooner or later my daughter would acquire it. I educated my daughter about the ill effects of high sugary foods, and how it can spoil our health and our body structure.
It was a challenge for me as no one supported me in the family. Everyone thought I was mean to the poor child and depriving her of the childhood pleasures. No one saw the larger picture.
Finally, I managed to convince my daughter and requested everyone in the family to refrain from giving her such foods. But things started happening without my knowledge, and she was still being offered chocolates every day. So I made a plan with my daughter.
We zeroed in on having chocolates only on the weekends, that too after my permission. It worked and did make a lot of difference in her weight, and she finally did see the change in her body. And now she herself says a firm ‘NO’ when she is offered sugar loaded foods.
Different other ways to express your love to kids
I understand that everyone is different and has a unique way to express their love, and sometimes they may not realise that this kind of love may not be good for a child.
So in such situations, we have to make them realise this and give them alternative ways to express their love so that they do not feel offended, and the child also gets the special love from the grandparents.
I want to tell all parents, grandparents, friends, and family, that there are a lot of ways to show our love to a child other than offering high sugary food items.
Many other positive and constructive ways to show our love to kids are:
- Gifting/Reading out a book
- Playing an indoor/outdoor game with them
- Teaching them values and etiquettes of life
- Imparting general knowledge
- Supervising their homework
- Talking to them about their day
- Teaching them bhajans/shlokas
- Giving young children a bath or playing in the water with them
- Singing or playing music with them
In today’s scenario, it is very important that we continually educate our children about being healthy and fit. High sugar foods are always offered to children, who eat it very happily.
As adults, we can help ourselves but a child needs a control by the parents. There should be a control on how much is going in our body.
Ultimately children are our future, and if we don’t help them take care of their health at this age, they may not have a healthy future. It’s never too early or too late to start educating them.