If you missed it, TV chef Gino D’Acampo was all over the news after slamming ‘moron’ parents for allowing children to become picky eaters, declaring ‘there’s no such thing as a fussy child’.
While on a podcast the 45-year-old dad-of-three reveals he’s a strict parent. He admits that he sends his children to bed without dinner if they refuse to eat.
Our family Editor Stephanie Lowe was a bit blown away by Gino D’Acampo’s thoughtless and dated comments. Fussy eating is a perfectly normal part of development, the NHS says so too.
Disclaimer: We all parent differently and that’s okay. We are also all figuring this out together. So, to call parents ‘morons’ and ‘idiots’ for trying to do their best isn’t okay, Gino.
Sending your child to bed for refusing to eat dinner may be the only way you know how to parent. Because that’s what happened to you. And you ‘turned out alright’.
But, this outdated move can be dismissive and cruel. As well as counter productive. You want them to do something, so you remove their chance to actually do it?
Fussy eating is part of development. Stacy Zimmels, Founder of Feed Eat Speak, feeding & swallowing specialist and Speech and Language Therapist agrees. She tells us; “Fussy eating is a common childhood phenomenon. And there is no doubt that how a parent manages eating behaviours and mealtime challenges can have both positive and negative outcomes for the child’s long term eating habits.
“However Gino D’Acampo fails to recognise the complexity of fussy eating. And we know this can have developmental, genetic, sensory factors too.”
The TV chef went on to say – and I remember this tactic from my childhood – that he wasn’t above serving his children the previous night’s dinner for breakfast the next day. This is ‘so they learn a lesson’. What lesson? That you can reheat food?
Gino D’Acampo also reportedly said: “A child doesn’t grow up fussy. It’s not possible. It’s the parents that can’t be bothered to fight. They can’t be bothered to have the argument at the table.”
You know what. He’s right, I don’t want to fight or argue at the table. Who does? And why would I want to teach my child that that’s how you discuss things, by shouting over dinner.
Fight, and argue. These are not the words, actions or feelings I want in my home, raising my child.
And, it’s not that I ‘can’t be bothered’. In fact, it’s harder and more time-consuming – especially as a working parent – to stop and open the conversation. To listen to my child, and to stop the cycle of dismissive ‘get it eaten’ yesteryear parenting.
Fighting is a last resort, often with the worst outcome. It’s not a go-to tactic to teach my child.
What Gino is describing – ‘serving up the previous night’s ravioli for breakfast instead of cornflakes until his children finally ate it’ – sounds like bullying. Using his size and position of power as a parent to coerce his children into doing what he wants them to do. When he wants them to do it.
As those children get older outside influences and other people, will start to take the place of Gino. And they won’t have the tools or skillset to know they have a voice and a choice, nor will they know how to stand up for it. It was bullied out of them over a bowl of pasta and a power trip.