Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It seems a bit strange to me...

Today I was eating lunch by myself outside. Which gave me plenty of time to people-watch because I didn't have to keep up my side of the conversation.

This is what I saw.

There was 3 people sitting at the table next to me, 2 older ladies and a boy. Well, the boy was addicted to his game boy, and his mother was feeding him. The boy wasn't even looking up from the game, and just opened his mouth while his mother shovelled the food into his mouth.

I was aghast! I mean, this may be a cultural thing...but seriously, it if was my kid, he would have turned off that game and ate himself. geez!


  1. ugh. One of my Indian-American friends has this problem with her MIL. When the MIL comes over, she puts the kid in front of the TV and spoon-feeds her. It has reached the point that the kid insists on having the iphone in front of her when she eats so she can watch cartoon. (Yay, let's associate eating with watching television!)

    If there's a cultural difference, I think it's the issue of not making kids independent. I'm sure you see more of it than I have seen, but there are small children in my extended family who have five adults waiting on them hand and foot 24 hours a day. Of course the kids have no manners and throw a fit whenever something doesn't go their way. Of course it's not everybody, just a few extreme people--otherwise we wouldn't be talking about how bizarre it is, but still, the woman needs to turn that thing off and the kid needs to use those fine motor skills he's honed on video games to feed his own face!

  2. Yes it is a big cultural difference I noticed too, in my old neighbourhood in bangalore, kids were playing in the street with their moms running after them with a tiffin box and stuff their mouth with food. Personnaly I find it disrespectful, because I got raised to respect meal time and do it sitting down and fully focused on the food. I swear I even saw a mom chase her 3 yo son and climb after him on top of his daddy's car to feed him!

    I also noticed that most parents in India tend to spoon feed their kids much longer than we do in the west too, whcih lead to a 5-6 yo still being fed by his parents. My SIL said that it has to do with some parents being afraid of the mess a toddler does with the food and the concern not enough is going in the mouth.
    DH and I can't feed out DD anymore she is 19 months old and refuse to be spoon fed prefering independance :) Some aunties said I had to distract her with the TV but HAD to feed her. Younger parents think it is great and wonderful I'm giving her independance with food :)

  3. My Pakistani SIL (or one of their maids) hand fed their children beyond toddler years, too. Looked weird to me. Until very recently, I was living in Dubai with a lot of Indian and Pakistani neighbors and one Hyderabadi (Indian) neighbor thought it was SOOO bizarre that my small toddler fed herself. Several people made comments to me over time, actually. I actually got a lot of mother-on-mother judgement there from the Indian and Pakistani neighbor moms (or their Indian maids) and was told things like "Why don't you pierce you girls ears and make them real girls?" "Why don't you shave their head so their hair will grow in thicker?" "You should cover your daughter's genitals when you change her diapers." (cuz I wouldn't mind her being buck naked for a few minutes) "You should bundle your daughter up more." (I felt the desi moms were more sensitive to cold because it didn't seem very cold to me---all the kids would be in "monkey caps" at 65 degrees) "Why don't you put a black dot on your baby's forehead, I don't really believe in that either, but it is just better to do it" blah blah blah on and on. So the cross cultural judgement definitely goes both ways. What looked to them like bad or careless mothering was just rooted in cultural difference. My take on this is that their way works for them and my way (I'd say my way is more Western-encourage independence type thinking) works for me, so I try to cut out my judgements of them. It did sting when they made comments to me, though, for sure.

    In my observation, hand feeding something is a sign of ultimate maternal love and devotion in S. Asian culture. In Hindi movies the Ma hand feeds the long gone returned son, and the female love interest hand feeds the hero when she is nursing him back to health or something. That's not something in my culture or something I felt I needed to do, so I just ignored it when I got comments about it from desi moms.

  4. Sometimes you have to get a kid to eat however you can! They'd rather do anything but! I think it's better to spoon feed the kid than to have to fight with them to force them to eat the food on their plate, at least up to a certain age. Once school starts, kids should be able to feed themselves. What will they do at snack time otherwise?

  5. I just remembered this:

  6. @Blonde Bahu,

    Wow!!! that was funny!!! thanks for sharing!!!

  7. I was actually told the reason Indian moms have to force feed, distract-feed, etc. was that Indian kids were born without appetites and don't actually learn to feel hunger until around age 7/8. If mothers didn't force feed them, they literally starve to death cuz Indian kids HATE eating.