Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Clean Your Plate or Else' Is Out

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Clean Your Plate or Else' Is Out

Article excerpt

Dear Ann Landers: I feel compelled to write after reading the letter from "An Aunt in Greenfield, Mass.," whose sister Dora emotionally abuses her children by forcing them to eat everything on their plates.

My parents also believed in making their children clean their plates. When unpalatable foods were placed in front of me, I would simply refuse to eat. When everyone else was finished and all the dishes were washed, I would still be sitting at the table, staring at my plate. At that point, my father would lose his temper and slap me out of my chair. After that, the ritual was over and I would run off crying and hide.

Ann, the anger I felt after reading "Aunt's" letter upset me so much it has taken me two days to compose this letter. Dora and others like her are child abusers. The effects of emotional abuse are as severe and as long-lasting as physical abuse. I pray that "Aunt" can provide those children with an emotional safety net.

As an adult, I now realize that many of our parents grew up during the Depression, when a plate full of anything was a luxury. As a child, I only knew that I wasn't going to eat something I didn't like - no matter what happened. I have never forced my children to eat anything they didn't want, nor have I coerced them with "just take one bite and try it."

I suspect you will get a flood of letters from people with eating disorders and stomach problems that resulted from their childhood experiences. My problems are minor compared to theirs, but I appreciate the opportunity to vent my feelings. I go for psychological counseling and have discussed this eating thing, but I never felt that degree of anger until I read the letter about Dora.


Sorry I stirred up some unpleasant memories. Your testimony bears witness to the damage that can occur when parents force children to eat. …

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