Before my children were born, when they lived in my imagination, they were incredible eaters. Anything I made them — kale, broccoli, coq au vin, salmon — they'd dig into enthusiastically. So I knew the whole eating thing would be a breeze! I'd eat healthy food while I was pregnant and breastfeeding, then start them on all kinds of exotic dishes as soon as they could handle solids. Ha. And, no. My children are picky eaters, through and through. So believe me when I say I've developed a few ways to respond when someone judges your picky eater, because the only thing worse than a kid turning their nose up at the food you made is some stranger judging them (and you!) for it.
Let me give you a word of advice, one of the most important things I've learned as a parent: never mistake good luck for good parenting, or bad luck for bad parenting. This principle was really highlighted with how eating went down in my family. Because at first everything was going to plan. When my husband and I ate spicy Jamaican chicken stew, my kids ate spicy Jamaican chicken stew. My son loved shrimp. My daughter loved butternut squash. I was so smug. "See," I'd gloat. "Just give your kids good food and they'll eat it. It's as easy as that."
And then my kids hit a certain age and they stopped eating whatever I put in front of them because, yes, they're capricious, autonomous beings with developing palates. I'd coax, I'd encourage, I'd be firm, but it was all in vain. They still ate healthy foods, but their list of acceptable edibles narrowed considerably. And let me tell you how well that went down in my big Italian family whose motto could easily be "eat this or else."
"You know what you should do...?"
"Are you really going to let them get away with that..."
"They should be eating..."
"They shouldn't be eating..."
"When I was a kid..."
I got very good at snarky retorts of the years, real and imagined, so I thought I'd share them with the rest of you picky eater parents, because when you have a hard-to-please child this kind of catharsis is important.