My siblings used to laugh at me for chasing my toddler around the house, trying to shove spoonfuls of quinoa and broccoli purée between her lips. It was a classic example of a Yiddishe mama and her picky kid. “Well, we also have a problem,” my sister-in-law laughed as she doled out yet another plate of scrambled eggs to her two-year-old. “This little kid won’t stop eating!”
I eyed the steaming plate of protein with longing. “You don’t know how lucky you are,” I told her.
Over time, I’ve reached a truce with my offspring. Supper is served at the kitchen table, and it usually consists of a very diverse variety of noodles and cheeses. On extremely lucky evenings, the heaping plate of veggies that accompanies it is saved from total neglect by a few tentative fingers reaching out to take a nibble. I console myself with the thought that my picky daughter is still picky, but at least she sometimes eats a few bites of “vegebabbles.”
Still, according to the latest parenting “experts,” those tiny bites could turn into monster-sized ones with the help of a professional “eating coach.” These coaches claim to be able to turn recalcitrant eaters into enthusiastic ones. An initial consultation is $250, with the grand total reaching $400 or more, but many desperate parents are willing to cough up the dough, no doubt figuring that that’s what the next 20 pizza pies would have cost them anyway.
Picky-eating coaching is just one of the many services now available for parents wishing to outsource some of the more difficult aspects of parenting. Once upon a time it took a village to raise a child. But today the villages of old have undergone upgrades, and our modern ones come packaged with an expanded “community” to aid in the rearing of children. Instead of seeking advice from a wise family member or a neighbor beating her laundry on a rock by the lake, contemporary parents have an array of professionals at their beck and call—for a price.
While I’m usually resistant to the idea of farming such things out to others, sometimes the thought of hiring a picky-eating coach is as tempting as the lovingly blended kale smoothie that my daughter refuses even to try.
There are all types of parents out there, from helicopter moms to tiger moms, with experts advocating everything from free-range to attachment parenting. But apparently there’s an even newer phenomenon on the block called “outsourced parenting.”
Here’s a list of parenting duties that can now be wrapped in a bow and handed over to the pros.