Islamic marriage advice and family advice

In need of parenting advice

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Salam to everyone, it's nice to see you all again. I've posted on here a few times, and answer questions here and there. InshaAllah, I hope you all find the answers and solutions that are best for you and that Allah grants us all.

So today I have a really tough question about parenting, and I need some help. Now, I live in Canada, and I don't have any family around, nor is our Islamic community very large or diverse and we have very few people here that have anything in common with us culturally. That being said, I came here today to ask the parenting advice of BOTH the brothers and the sisters, please don't feel excluded if you're a husband or father, please don't think this is a woman's post from a woman looking for woman's answers. I'm looking for answers from good parents, regardless of gender. My husband is a Pharm.D, Ph.D and he is shameless about performing unpaid domestic labor in our home to help me while I study. There's no shame in being a great parent, which includes all the dirty jobs that come along with it sometimes.

So my daughter was born 2 months early, and I'm surprised she even made it that far. We thought I had a miscarriage when I was only 6 weeks pregnant, 2 weeks after I missed my first menstrual cycle and saw the positive pregnancy test. We had planned the pregnancy so it was no surprise, so the moment my cycle came late I ran to the store to get at-home pregnancy tests. Alhamdulillah, I was pregnant but as I said only 2 weeks later I bled like nothing I'd ever seen before. The nurses thought no way, she's lost it. Surprise to all of us when the internal ultrasound found a heartbeat, a little life clinging to the uteran wall of a uterus that I later found out had a deformity, which contributed to her early birth. My husband is a dark haired, dark eyed Iranian and I'm a light brown haired, brown eyed white american girl. My husband would dream all the time, "what if she has blue eyes... blonde hair!" I'd say do you have any idea how unlikely that is? Of course he does, but he'd dream anyway. He'd put his hand on my belly and pray every night. It became a nightly ritual, hot tea and belly prayers. Eventually I was put on total bed rest, and then at 7 months I was rushed in for an emergency C-section.

To my great surprise, out came this child, with blonde hair and blue eyes. She looks just like my husband. It's completely unreal, her eyes are a sky-blue and her hair is like turmeric. Immediately, she had my husband wrapped around her finger. But she was tiny, only 2lbs., 4oz. (that's just over 1kg.... yes ONE kilogram for all you going by the metric system). She was skinny, hairy (as most premature babies are), had jaundice, and didn't even have the strength to cry. She just trembled. Over time, she grew until finally 3 months later she was 8lbs. (3.6kg.) and ready to go home, but she had an eating problem and so she was given a surgery to put a tube in her stomach where we could literally pour food into her stomach. It's called a G-tube (gastrostomy tube). She still has it. She also came home on a heart and an apnea monitor. The next year was a journey of my husband and I doing everything for the 'first time ever', and everything felt like it could kill her... lots of little crisis moments, like her G-tube coming out when I was home alone with her, having her throw up all her food, watching the monitors flash all night and getting no sleep for like a whole year.... just use your imagination and you can see that after only one year I had aged 5 years from the stress and investment into our first child because we loved her so much.

I'm sure I said this before, but I'm going to repeat it... we're in Canada from the states with no family, and very little community.

Ok, now that you have some idea of where we are coming from, let me ask my question... my kid is 5.5 years old now Alhamdulillah, and she really is a good girl with a good heart, but I fear we've spoiled her. Also, with food being such a struggle, now dinner time is literally a fight to get her to eat anything but french fries, cucumbers, feta cheese, rice, bread, milk, berries and ice cream. I mean ANY meal, THAT'S ALL she will eat (clearly got her food preferences from her father). We cook, she throws a fit. Chicken, no way. Pasta, nope. Any meat other than eggs, forget it. You'd think the things I've listed above are all great. What's the problem, right? But I can't feed her for the next 4 years eggs, rice and cucumbers. She gets literally NO caloric intake from these items. And she can't live off junk food. I can't just toss french fries and ice cream at her so she'll get calories... that's just not being a responsible parent to give such bad nutrition like that. She hates multivitamins. She says they're gross, sour and chalky (and they're the fruit-flavored kind for kids, top of the line, not with just vitamins but also minerals, iron, etc. $20 USD for 1 month worth with funny cartoons on the bottle just for kids). Now she's started to realize that we love her so much that she can take advantage of us, and not eat dinner and we won't really punish her because she has a bad medical history with eating development, but put a bowl of french fries in front of her and she gobbles it up. It's because she likes them, and she has no problem eating what she likes. This is how I know she IS CAPABLE of eating anything I put in front of her, she just CHOOSES to dramatize it.

The problem doesn't end at the dinner table though, when she leaves 80% of her food in her plate. It continues ALL NIGHT LONG. 'Mommy, I'm hungry, can I have cucumbers?' I hear this until 11pm at night. When other kids are sleeping with a full belly, she's running me exhausted to fetch her tiny pieces of food with no caloric value. Now, I've really started to get frustrated, and my husband is even seeing his patience fail during lunch and dinner time (she brings her school lunches home Untouched). I can also tell he's becoming a bit dis-enchanted at her "spoiled" attitude when demanding the food she wants, and refusing the food she doesn't. His little angel, whom we killed ourselves to keep healthy before she was even born is now treating us like her slaves, and we can't bring ourselves to really punish her, because she'll cry and tantrum until she throws up.

Parents out in parent-land, I need your help! I've never seen mothering skills like I've seen in my muslim community, Alhamdulillah. You mothers, and it could be cultural because I only really have been exposed to Arabs (egyptians, palestinians, saudis, afghanis...) and people from north and central Africa (moroccans, etc.)... but you women are SAINTS with your kids while they run circles around you. Some of them scream, hit their siblings, cause a scene, make a ruckus, and yet your patience endures, and in the end your kids grow up to want to be around their parents and their families. I don't know how you guys do it, but I can't let my child treat us like slaves. It's not in us to be treated that way by our kids... especially out of defiance, and ESPECIALLY when her health is at risk. She needs to get calories, and gain weight. She's tracked by developmental specialists, and I don't want them to think we're not providing for her. She doesn't look especially ill or frail, her charts show she's in the 50th percentile... but that's only because instead of a nice big dinner and then maybe a cucumber after, she doesn't eat dinner and eats 10 cucumbers, 4 bites of cheese, 1 egg, all over the course of a 4-hour period after dinner when my husband and I just want to sit down after a busy day. We're pulling our hair out. HELP!!!!!!!

Lastly, I know I should be patient with my child, and I can imagine there's a list of proverbs from both hadith and the Qur'an to support the patience I should have with my daughter but really that's already telling me something I already know, and really won't help. Also, we're not superstitious (don't be offended, but I believe using recitations for magical purposes is wrong) so please don't ask me to recite anything 1000 times. I'm sorry, but I need real parenting advice that we can implement in our home with just us. thanks.

Moose_is_Loose

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8 Responses »

  1. Salam sister,

    It sounds like you have gone through such hardship over the past few years but this little lady is certainly running your house. I don't want to scare you but it might get worse if you don't change things now! Elhamdoullah that she is better now.

    Perhaps because of her illness, you and your husband have forgotten that children still need bounderies which encourages them to understand that they are the children and that "you" are the parents! Don't be scared of her tantrums and screams as they are her ways of controling you. You need a plan and a step by step guide to correct her behaviour but it all need to start from you and your husband's own behaviour towards her. Again, YOU ARE THE PARENTS.

    By correcting your behaviour with her, she will subsequently change hers and the food situation will change too.

    Despite the fact that you are all alone in Canada, seek parental classes/support.

    Sit down with her and your husband and explain to her the reason as to why she needs to eat a variety of food for her health and wellbeing. Explain that from know on, meal time will be set to a certain time and meals to be eaten during that specific time. No food to be requested after and that she will have to eat what u guys are eating.
    Try to eat as a family and try distracting her and showing her that mama and papa are eating the same meal as her.

    It is going to be super hard at first to implement changes as she is going to oppose it so hardly but consistency is the key!! Be strong and stand by your rules.

    You and your husband need to show a united front as she will try to play you against each other.

    Try to get her enrolled in a islamic class if such thing is available around you.

    Wishing you all the best!

    Salam

  2. Alhamdulilah, she is growing and you've made it through such hardships.

    But this is normal. Especially how you're feeling as first time parents. I'm not a mother but I lived with my sister and my first nephew when he was born and up to age 5. And my fiance's youngest brother is like this.

    My sister does sit and talk with my nephew about his eating so he understands but you should know being a picky eater at this age is developmentally normal. Honestly, if she doesn't want to eat what you've made then she doesn't eat. It's one of those things where you have to wait it out. She has to learn there are consequences for her choices. There might be some nights where she will wake you up because she is hungry and you should let her know that cucumbers aren't available but what you've made for dinner is available. If you dont want her to eat it then dont buy it. Also, have her help you cook or prepare her own lunch. Prepare a wider range of food options. There are tons of foods that look lIke junk food that are wholesome and nutritious. And then you have got to compromise. Maybe have a day where you reward her with the food she likes. She might be small age, but communicating with her helps. Tell her if she eats what you make on these days then you will let her have her favorites on these days. Make a visual calendar for her to see. And above all be firm. Communicate with your doctor's as well.

    Are there liquid or powder supplements you can add to her food or juice or milkshakes/smoothies?

    The thing is you look at those parents and they probably grew up in big families (Arab and African families). They have experience because they have multiple siblings and parents to multiple children. My sister had a really hard time with her first because she wanted to go by the book and for it to go exactly as she'd planned. But after her second boy she got over that real fast and it's just one of those things where you gotta relax.

  3. Walaikumassalam

    I have 3 boys masha Allah, 12, 8 and (almost 5) as he likes to call it. all with very different approach to eating.

    you have mentioned a list of food that she likes - to be honest its not a bad list at all! I believe the problem is more psychological i.e. its an area of concern and she gets both of you very serious and concerned about it... power trip!

    heres what i would have done, stop talking about it. tell your husband to back off and only one of you deal with the issue. shuffle around the things she likes make sure she gets a bit of everything and heres the main point

    you and your husband enjoy other food in front of her and completely ignore her from the conversation - peak her interest by ignoring her on this subject. Dont engage her just run along with it, insha Allah you will see results in less than a month.

    regards,
    Saqib

  4. Assalamu'alaikum,
    I can only telling you about how the Dutch doing.

    After born - every month the goverment will check the grows of baby till they are 1 year old.
    Up to 1 year, the check done once in a year - from weight - eye test - knowledge of child (if they know which one is eye - hands - fingers, etc) - consult.

    My smallest is 3 year now and that's the period when a child have eating problem. So does my child.

    The suggestion the government give only:
    Just cook what do you want to cook. And if she doesn't want to eat it let her - don't give attention. They will manage they need by them selves.

    If they get hungry, give them the food you made.

    It will take round 3 days - till they recognize to eat what you have in the pot.

    ****

    Another idea is to provide healthy food and snacks in the house (such as: fruit, yogurt, kwark, cheese, bread, milk, egg, etc) and let them just eat what they wanted based on what you provided.

    And bring them with you anywhere you go with the kids.

    Normally, in uncommon places (in the bus, in the park, etc), children loves to eat, and they don't see what they eat.

    ****
    I am using the second methode + not giving attention if they doesn't want to eat.

    Few weeks ago we did the annual general check up. I was worried if the curves will show down since I don't remember she eat. I just remember she snacks (well, I calculate bread - milk - fruit - kwark - cheese - sausage - as snack). But surprissely, it goes up. So it works...

    ****
    The line is: never force your child to eat.
    If they don't want to eat let them, show them another food (bread, egg, milk, cracker, biscuits).
    It may not big meal - but that's no problem as long as it's healthy food which go inside their body and not chips, soda (such as coca cola), and candys...(I give chips and candys maybe once in two weeks - one month in small amount. Soda once in half year - a year. Mostly snacks I give is 1 bar of chocolate for a week).

  5. Salam,

    First of all, your issues are solvable. I know these kids that don't eat cake or doughnuts despite finding them delicious. They will refuse them even when their parents aren't there. The reason is that the mother values healthy food, cooks healthy food and has instilled healthy food into her kids. I talk to those kids and they don't know enough to explain why junk food is bad but they they know, anything with red dye number 5 or something like that isn't getting eaten.

    So try this, make some baked potato fries and cut out the french fries. You want to cut down on her junk food because it's going to keep giving her this high that she can't get from regular food. Next, try rice dishes, bread dishes, soups or whatever else. Then try restaurant food and see is she accepts any of that. Many times the child will refuse a particular food yet accept it when it's cooked with different spices.

    Anyway, I hope that works for you. Some kids never get over what they don't like to eat. Others like something then switch or dislike something and switch. I hope things work out for you inshallah.

    Arif

  6. Not really sure about your question? Long story must lI've to talk soon there is noon peace because reading quran will automatically transform you. It will give you peace and tranquility to do everything and make everyone happy unless it was not destined.This world is nothing more then a test regardless how smart a person thinks how much wealth he has even if he has nothing.The fact is the true success is Obeying the commandments of Allah and the teachings of Muhammad. Without implenting these 2 key things your life is a stress bucket.There are talkers and doers in this world.Today muslims are so weak and they think they know everything but lack the practice and good character. Like it said and idle man's brain is a devils workshop.

  7. Asalamu alaikum,

    They say the parent will give birth to their masters, and this is exactly it. I can see the problem as you said. ''spoiled her'' I know how it feels having a child whom you love so much you want to do everything for her, but that is how problem starts. You said, her eating habits come from her father? Remember the parents are the role model. If one of the parent is a fussy eater, the child will be the same.

    Children need structure in their life, which includes a little tuff love, strictness, discipline, ground rules etc. What does she eat for breakfast? Cereal is good for breakfast and is a filling meal. That will reduce her craving for junk food. Do you take her out much? i.e run around the park etc? What time is her bed time and last meal time?

    Before she goes bed give her a glass of warm milk, that will take away bit of the hunger and good for her since it has calcium.

    You and your husband need to be on the same page, one being lenient can indeed have an opposing effect. Explain to your daughter, you don't always eat food cos of its taste, you eat is cos its good for you.
    Tell her from now on she has to eat what you make, explain to her fast foods, ice cream have its time and place not everyday. Also tell your daughter, no more late night snacks, if she doesn't eat at dinner then its her loss. Children will throw a tantrum etc, but when they see that you not listening, the next day out of hunger they will eat what you give, even those type of foods they don't usually eat i.e pasta etc. Talk with your child, telling her how lucky she is to eat lots of delicious foods not every child is that fortunate.

    Sometimes you can try using gifts to make her eat or tell her she won't get what she wants if she doesn't listen. It will take time, but be strict on your rules otherwise the child will walk all over you.

    The thing about parents from Asia, they tend to use an underhand technique known as a beating. Very common, this is why we could not run circles with my parents and turned out well..

    Last but not least make constant du'a, the same way your spouse made du'a every night. Hope things go well.

    Peace.

  8. Assalam alaikum,

    Dear Sister,

    Your daughter sounds like a sweetheart 🙂 Inn shaa Allah, all will be well.

    I suggest the following:

    Consult with your doctor a dietician and give her a meal supplement drink (like pedicure) in the evening so that she does not feel hungry. I would not give more than one a day and I would try it in the evening (or 1 or 2 hours before she sleeps to help her sleep without being hungry). This is a temporary solution while you simultaneously make some other changes.

    If she does not eat vegetables, you can cook some vegetables and blend them thoroughly. Mix them with rice flour, egg and milk and then make a pancake out of them using olive oil (or butter or whatever you prefer). The consistency of the batter depends on how mushy the vegetables were and how much milk you added--experiment with it. Add whatever spices you think your daughter would prefer depending if she likes bland vs. spicy food. Serve it to her with ketchup. I don't know how you make vegetables, but this works really well with a mildly spicy vegetable curry. You can get the pickiest of kids to eat this if you tweak it just right and frankly you could eat it yourself. If you don't have time to make vegetable curry first,...you could even make this zucchini by grating it and adding rice flour (or another flour that you prefer), egg and milk.

    That gives you merely 2 ideas...perhaps try it and write back here on how it went? I have a few more ideas that might work...but the vegetable pancake with ketchup gets those picky eaters every time!

    Also, I know it's hard, but you really have to sit down with your princess and talk about the eating habits in brief points in *her* language. Tell her:
    1. Honey, your body needs to eat different colors (those would the vegetables but kids like the idea of colors over the idea of vegetables) because they help you to be happy, healthy and beautiful.
    2. Sweetheart, we are going to use a timer when we eat. When the plate goes on the table with your food in it, you will have 10 minutes to eat (start with maybe 15 minutes and gradually change it...depends on what you are at right now). When the time is over, we will be doing a different activity.

    And then, you have to stick to your words--that's your toughest part. I personally think it will be easier for you to not give into her poor eating habits if she is taking something like a meal supplement for kids (do not give her a meal supplement for adults and again, consult with a doctor and/or dietician first to make sure that it is ok) because you will know that she something of value in her stomach. You can also try make veggie/fruit smoothies as well, but obviously, you want her to start eating and not just drinking her food.

    Also, for lunch-perhaps start packing a smaller, more manageable lunch. sometimes in the psychology of kids who are picky eaters, they look at all of the food, feel overwhelmed and don't eat anything--whereas if there was just 3 things, she might just go ahead and eat it.

    I pray that inn shaa Allah things will get better for you, your husband and your daughter. I know it isn't easy, but you have to convey to her that the love of parents isn't nested only in love, hugs and kisses, but mommies and daddies have to grab their children's arm if they were to step towards a busy street. That the love of parents is such a huge responsibility...right now she believes that the both of you only love her if she gets her way and you need to explain to her, at her level, that parents show their love through routine and strict rules as well...

    May Allah swt ease your problems, Ameen.

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