Carolyn Hax: Don't stew over Dad's picky eating

The Washington PostMay 22, 2014 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Carolyn: My extended family is coming for a long weekend. I haven't seen them in a while and I'm looking forward to seeing them all.

My dad is a picky eater in ways I don't really understand. Last time he was here, he complained about the farmers market eggs that I bought ("the yolks are too yellow"), the homemade cheesecake ("let's go get fast-food soft-serve instead"), and he wouldn't eat the pancakes I made because the only syrup I have is maple. He has always been picky, but I don't really remember what he likes; I haven't lived with him in 12 years.

I like cooking, so it hurts my feelings when he turns up his nose at what I make. It's not like I'm trying to force-feed him liver and kale. I can't afford to take everyone out for every meal. Other than handing my dad a map of fast-food locations, how can I deal with him for the next four days?

PICKY EATER'S CHILD

You do know what he likes: junk, and whatever else you don't have. Please see it as a control issue and let it slide.

I'm not suggesting he's the classic control/emotional abuse/I-must-manipulate-others case, but instead someone on the less extreme end of the insecurity spectrum: someone very uncomfortable so far off his turf. And so he fixes on anything new to him, and complains about it to shift the blame for his unease somewhere else.

If it helps, think of the people you'd expect to complain about too-yellow eggs and desserts that aren't bland and predictable enough: little kids. They're unnerved by a world that feels too big for them to manage, and want both the comfort of the familiar and the relief of making their fear someone else's problem.

So, in addition to not taking things personally, ask your dad beforehand for his preferred cereal, brand and flavor of ice cream, and some other standby foods you can offer when your pumpkin pie is way too orange and antioxidant-rich for his tastes.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service