The Grandparents Feed My Kids Junk Food (and I’m Okay with That!)

My husband and I are VERY lucky. All three sets of our parents live within 15 minutes of us, and all three sets of grandparents believe it is their inherent right to feed my children junk. And guess what? I am okay with that.

The pre-children, I-know-everything-about-parenting-because-I-don’t-have-kids-yet mother in me has to pick my chin off the ground at that statement, along with all my sister “crunchies” and “foodies” and wellness-focused moms. But, before you judge, let me explain.

Along with many new moms, our family’s food choices became a major source of obsession focus when I became pregnant. I started to really evaluate what I was putting into my body, and what I was putting/going to be putting into my children’s bodies.

Grandparents are known for feeding junk food to grandchildren.

I read books.

I talked to friends.

I watched documentaries.

Everything pointed to the direction of “If you eat anything in a package or not purchased directly from a farm, you are going to kill your children.”

Okay, maybe not that extreme, but I quickly realized that my three-a-day Diet Coke habit and my favorite Sonic breakfast burrito weren’t the best ways for me to fuel my body or the best habits to let my children watch me nurture. So, like many parents, we radically shifted the way we did food. In fact, we went as far as opening a natural food store. (Just for the record, you can get good quality food without being all extreme and crazy and opening a natural food store. I tend to be a “go big or go home!” type of gal.) We made it our mission to change the way the world saw food.

When my little guy became old enough to eat solid foods, I can remember there being this obsession amongst the grandparents: Who can get the biggest smile out of Noah by sneaking him the sugariest treat?! (They had to sneak said sugar-food for fear of me going all exorcist on them. What?! The documentary told me that food would KILL them!) I was pretty vocal about the food rules when they babysat: No sugar, no GMOs, only grass-fed/pasture raised meats, and a fruit and veggie with every meal. You know, eliminating all the things grandparents love to feed their grandchildren.

We had our second child a few years later, and I began to care a little less (poor, poor second child). I wasn’t quite as concerned about the falls, the food, or the screen time, and was more concerned about, you know, just keeping two children alive. Raising humans is HARD! All the things that were SO important to me just a few years prior were slowly fading into the distance.

It’s not that I didn’t love my daughter as much as my son. It’s also not because I didn’t still hold the same values. It’s because I realized that caring SO much about SO many things was exhausting. Remembering to send “our milk” (grass-fed, non homogenized, DUH!) along with all the things my little minions needed for an overnight at the grandparents’ house was just enough to make me want to pull my hair out.

So, I stopped being the food police. First, I just stopped sending “our milk.” Then, I stopped giving the grandparents food rules. Eventually, my husband and I stopped even putting our car into park as we shoved the kids out of the minivan.

You see, at home, we still care. At home, we feed our children whole foods. We limit their sugary treats to no more than one per day. We focus on foods that nourish, rather than just foods that fill bellies. We get outside to enjoy the sunshine, we encourage movement and exercise and activity. We try to talk about what happens to our bodies when we feed them too many Doritos, too many donuts, or too much juice. We focus on how to make good choices on a daily basis that will make us feel as best as we can.

quote, do what you can
My Parenting Mantra

Then, when the grandparents swoop in, I’m confident we have done what we can, when we can, so when we can’t . . . we don’t have to worry.  

As time has gone by, that little phrase has become my parenting mantra. We still don’t have junk food in our pantry on a regular basis, and we still have pretty firm rules about treat-eating on a daily basis. But now, yes, I let the grandparents feed my kids junk, and I actually think my kids are better off because of it. My sanity is better off, too.

I know I may be alone in this, so talk to me . . . . What are your food rules when you send the kids to the grandparents’ house?  

Krista grew up in Arlington, Texas. While she was in undergrad at Texas Tech she swore she would never return, but after falling in love with her brother’s high school friend, Micah, that plan quickly fell out the window. Two kids later, her family’s roots are deeply planted. Krista spent the first six years of her professional life as a behavioral specialist working with students who faced emotional and psychological challenges, but, after having children, she quickly realized she had a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Since leaving her career in the school district, she has owned three different businesses. She currently spends most of her kid-free time teaching families how to improve their health with natural approaches, as well as empowering mothers to tap into their inner, God-given awesomeness! Although she believes deeply in the importance of living a natural, holistic lifestyle, balance is her number one goal (because, margaritas!!!).


  1. YES. YES. YES. This was me with our first. I eventually stopped because 1-grandparents have earned the right to do some spoiling 2- we do our best at home and relax a bit otherwise. Love everything about this article!


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