Ice Cream B/f Dinner (A Grandparents' Prerogative?)

Updated on August 01, 2013
F.B. asks from Kew Gardens, NY
18 answers

Mamas & Papas-

Were it that he ate well, were it that it were only on occassion, were it that they didn't then give me grief about how poorly he eats dinner, were it that they weren't involved in his daily care, and I might be happier turning a blind eye to grandpa's habit of taking DS for ice cream before dinner.

They currently do before and after care and ferry DS to daycare 3 days a week, and take care of him 2 days a week. We are thinking of increasing the daycare to 4 or 5 days a week because while he is very loved, he is also spoiled rotten by my parents. The increased daycare though won't necessarily stop this ice cream b/f dinner ritual, and other indulgent tendencies.

How do I get through to them? Any tips or advice?

Thanks a bunch,
F. B.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the reality check. I will try having a conversation with them, in which I frame it as a matter of being fair to the child, rather than a matter of abiding by my rules. i.e. is it fair to expect him to eat dinner if you've given him ice cream first? We'll try a few times, and likely have little to no effect, unless, of course, they buy into this change.

I am fortunate to have loving and able parents who are willing to be actively involved grandparents.

Next time we have an ice cream before dinner incident, I guess I will just have to bite my tongue and remind myself that icecream is dairy too.

best to you all,
F. B.

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

Spoiling is what grandparents are for. I stopped caring after I had kid number two.

My parents don't mind my kids often, so at this point I couldn't care less what they feed them, just as long as they take them away!!!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We do this every now and then! Dessert first!! it's a great twist!!

We also do breakfast for dinner as well.

Just tell them that you would PREFER them to wait until AFTER he eats his dinner....if they complain or give you grief about his eating habits - you can bluntly say to them " you don't help the situation by giving him treats all the time."

I wouldn't "stop" it per se - but I would ask that they give ONE scoop instead of two ....moderation....

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Diego on

You were like me at that point ... one young child, trying to do it all right, wanting to follow all the rules, wanting to impose my rules at grandma's house ... I completely and utterly get it :)

With time and more kid wisdom under my belt (but by no means an expert nor will I ever be), I realize that the little things should be looked at for what they are: little things.

I personally would not pull my child out of grandma and grandpa's grasp to usher him off to daycare over ice cream. Know and understand that you have something that many, many people would love: your parents being very involved in your child's life on a regular and continuing basis. And grandparents healthy enough to do it.

Come up with a compromise and make them a part of the team. The team that helps establish good eating habits early. Ice cream AFTER dinner, ok, grandpa? No problems w/ ice cream. But it has it's place. After good nutrition.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My experience is you probably won't get through to them short of pulling DS out of their care for at least 6 months straight.

Pick your battles. Is this really one of them? When you look back 10 years from now will it really matter?

My son is almost 19 years old and I get to watch the negative impact of his grandparents influence ripple through his life BUT it is his life and at any given moment in time he can choose to make different decisions and inpact his life differently.

You can either clamp down hard or just let it go but ultimately they won't change because they are older and probably don't have the capacity to change as easily as you and your son.

Sounds to me like you have some thinking to do and some decisions to make. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

What a fun treat and memory for your son. How about once a month he gets to have an "ice cream appetizer" and that dinner can be extra nutritious .. Great way for him to learn
N about calendars... He can pick the day of the month for this treat...

Remember the parents of the child that was dying, they asked for people to celebrate the memory of their child by having ice cream sundaes for dinner every once in a while.

I remember a lot of moms on here did this..

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I was fully expecting to open this and read about an occassional treat and some mom freaking out abou tit. But then I saw it was you, and then you immediately clarified that for me......

You are the parent. Just tell them. I really don't know any other way around it. If they don't listen, you have to decide whether it is worth moving them to a center. Do they do all of this for free? If so, it would be really hard for me to get too upset with them, especially if they are getting completely balanced meals at home and perhaps some at daycare (their food isn't usually ideal). I will trade you! My parents and inlaws suck!!! Although I know that doesn't help your dilema......

Honestly, just tell them the rule. They may be your parents but he is your child. If they don't stop, they simply don't go there as often. I am probably more concerned about my kids' health than the average mom, mainly due to the fact that I inherited my mom's illness and I know what food does to our bodies and I am hopeful me being proactive will help my kids in the event their health isn't cooperating. So this would bother me. So I would just tell them what I expect.

If these are your inlaws, I think hubby should be the one to tell them

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If it's all the time I'd ask them to not do it, but that's what grandparents are for. Those are the memories that will make all the difference to him when they are gone.

My dad is GREAT at respecting my wishes as a mom and my mom not so much - I can tell you the kids love both of them equally, but they know who to go to if they want to be spoiled rotten when I'm around :).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Here's what I would do. A toddler's stomach is the size of his closed fist. Sit down with your parents and give them a quick visual lesson. Get a small cup or bowl that is about the same size as his fist. Then put in the portion of ice cream that Grandpa normally give him. Assuming that there is perhaps some time between ice cream time and dinner time, skim off a little bit to account for digestion. Then take the dinner that they or you normally serve and add it to the bowl. My guess is that it will overflow the bowl by a lot. Show them that with ice cream in his belly, there is literally no room for a nutritious meal, and lead them to the agreed conclusion that of course it makes sense to make sure he has dinner first and then some ice cream after as a bit of a treat. Or if there is some ritual where they walk somewhere to get ice cream and having that after dinner won't work, ask that the ritual be done much earlier in the day (say, after lunch) and with a smaller portion so he has plenty of time to digest the treat before dinner.

Normally with grandparents, especially those who provide child care, I say roll with it but where this is an every day thing that is affecting his appetite, I do think you need to speak up and make sure that they clearly understand that this treat is not really a treat for your son if it means he's missing out on a meal that he needs to eat.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

When they complain about not eating dinner, you could say "and that's why he should eat dinner BEFORE he has ice cream".

As for a realistic option that will hopefully help, can you ask that they let him the ice cream as the afternoon snack rather than right before dinner? That way, it's a win-win (hopefully).

You don't say how old your son is but based on the use of "daycare" I am thinking preschool aged so I think that may be the best option for you (the pm snack given before a certain time).

The only other option would be to stop having them provide daily care so it would become on the rare occasion rather than the norm.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Grandparents do not have the prerogative to undermine the parents' standards.
My mom used to pull that kind of thing, and I finally told her that if it continued, I would simply not be able to allow her to spend time with my daughter unless I was there to supervise. It stopped.
Have you told them flat-out, "NO ice cream or other junk food before dinner. He can have all the ice cream he wants AFTER dinner."

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Simply tell them... Wait until AFTER dinner to take him out for ice cream or stop complaining when he doesn't eat his dinner.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't see any problem in asking them to give him ice cream AFTER dinner. Tell them they are free to give him ice cream, but after dinner is preferred.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Just talk to them about it. Don't put him in daycare because they spoil him! And love him! My granddaughter naps in my arms. I sing her to sleep. You know what her pediatrician said? How lucky she is to be with her YiaYia and papa and to be so loved. She is a lucky little girl. It works for both of us. I love it. She knows at home she naps in crib. They are smart. She is 13 months. So pre dinner ice cream every so often not an issue. He will have some wonderful memories.

P.S. my son and DIL love that I will just sit and let her sleep. These are moments to be cherished because before you know it they are independent little guys.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Ohhh F., I feel ya! We LIVED with overindulgent grandparents for 18months with an ADHD child who is sugar restricted. Before living with them they really did not appreciate or understand their grandson's differences and needs. It still took a while for them to stop saying he is just "all boy" and totally normal and we need to loosen up.

Finally, I had a full on talk with them explaining that he is OUR son and while we appreciate your allowing us to live here (moved cross country) while we relocate, our son still needs to live by OUR rules. If they can not support our rules for our son then we will move out immediately.

They realized that I meant business and followed our rules regarding our son just like we followed their rules about living in their house. Now that we do not live with them what happens at Grandma's stays at Grandmas.

I think you need to tell the grandparents that if they can not abide by YOUR rules for your son then they can not be part of their daily care. M-F care follows your rules, if they have him for a weekend then HAVE AT IT!

Ice Cream is also NOT an every day item. I suggest you go over HIS nutrition plan as well and show them where ice cream fits in and where it does not. To be fair though - I rather give my son ice cream in the middle of the day than after dinner. IF he has to eat xyz to get the ice cream then give him xyz at lunch. At least that's how I roll. I figure he has a better chance of working off the ice cream in the middle of the day than just before bed.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Let me reread this: you are 'thinking of increasing the daycare to four or five days a week because while he is very LOVED, he is also SPOILED ROTTEN by my parents'Oh my gosh how long is he going to stay at the grandparents? FOREVER/ and ever? Let me tell you a story about a woman who lives way far away from you whose parents never ever babysat and who wanted more children couldn't have them so loved her two to pieces and wished with all her heart she had helpful grandparents who spoiled them any old which way (oh that's me by the way)>please enjoy the life you have. Your child is getting what so many of us would love-love and being spoiled. Heck if you get rid of them I'll move in with them for awhile. children are in their twenties. I miss my older one who moved and love the younger to pieces. You really need to worry about something more serious. Like I had cancer and that was definitely not caused by ice cream before dinner. Just enjoy them. No tips, no advice but ask them if they'd like to adopt an older daughter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

If the place packs the ice cream, can they walk over to get it and put it in the freezer until dessert time?



answers from Oklahoma City on

You won't. AND your kiddo will remember these special times with them for the rest of his life. They will be his fondest memories.

I'd look at it this way. If they are letting him have this as his after school snack then that's perfectly okay. If you are serving dinner at 6pm then he's not going to be as hungry as he would be if you served dinner at 7pm.

Kids need after school snacks, they are starving when they get home.

Ask them to give him whatever they want him to have for snack but to limit the time he eats to before 3:30 or 3:45.

If THEY feed him dinner then let them deal with this entirely. Make it "their" issue like this:

"Hi B., Johnny didn't eat his dinner again tonight. You need to make him eat better!".

"Hi mom, Johnny said he ate a huge bowl of ice cream and some cake and some grapes and drank 2 pops when he got home from school. Perhaps you can talk to grandpa about letting Johnny only have some of that or maybe not letting him eat until dinner time"

Or "He's full when it's dinner time because grandpa let him graze for an hour after he picked him up from school".

Turn it back on to them. You haven't seen him so it's their afterschool snacks that are messing things up. Nicely turn it back to them.


answers from Columbia on

To put this into perspective, this is 3 meals out of 21 in the whole week. Not including snacks. That means that of all his meals, 14% of them start with ice-cream. The remaining 86% are healthy meals.

I don't think that's so bad. And I think he is making wonderful memories with Grandpa.

I'd just let it go. This isn't a hill I'd be willing to die on.

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