The key word in that title is LEARNING…
I have a 14 year old daughter. I know what you’re thinking: “no WAY you are old enough to have a teenager!” 😉 Just kidding. I remember as a teenager, living on Mt. Dew, Reese’s Cups, and blow pops. I didn’t die. But knowing what I know now, I wish that I had spent those years eating healthy to prevent some things that will most likely show up as I age as a result of that diet (my dental bill has already shown the damage!). But as a teenager, you just really don’t think about yourself aging. Teenagers can’t fathom getting older, much less that what they are putting in their bodies now will effect that aging process.
BUT, my daughter has been taught for the last 8 years about clean eating, and about how what we put in our bodies really matters! Still, she is a teenager, and she wants to hang out with and fit in with her friends. The other night at a football scrimmage, my daughter texted me and asked if I would drive her and her friends to the gas station to get drinks. I agreed. I drove 4 girls to the gas station down the street, and they all came out with huge fountain drinks (that were only $.89, but that’s another blog!), and candy. While I was cringing and yelling and basically freaking out on the inside, I smiled and drove them back to the game. After the game, my daughter said “I only drank a little of my drink, and had a few gummy worms. I gave the rest away.” She knew how I was feeling on the inside, and wanted me to know that she really does understand what I’ve been trying to teach her. 🙂 It was a great moment!
As much I want to control my children’s diets (and I still do for my 9 year old son), I have to also realize when to let go of that control. She is 14. I have taught her everything I know. I am an example of clean eating to her, and in our home we eat well 90% of the time. She knows what to eat, why to eat, and the effects of what she eats. I make sure she starts out the day with a wholesome breakfast, but I let her pack her own lunch (knowing there are no bad choices for her pack!). This time of independence for her is freeing for both of us.
I am LEARNING to trust that she will make good decisions most of the time, while also knowing that it’s ok for her to just be a teenager sometimes – she’s not going to drop dead from one fast food meal or giant soda on the weekend.
I know first-hand how hard it is to know how bad something is for a child, but have to watch them consume it (or hear about it later). But I also know first-hand that she is listening, and is getting good nutrition 80% of the time. She will grow up with a foundation of good nutrition, and a lifestyle of clean eating! And that’s a huge accomplishment for me as a parent.