{enjoy the “ancient” pictures used in this post!}

PURPOSE: to encourage mothers-to-be and mothers of young children in cultivating good appetites in their children.
DISCLAIMER: This post is written by a mother who is in daily need of God’s forgiveness and grace as she seeks to “fear God and follow His commandments”. 
CONFESSION: The author actually likes oreos very much but has in the recent years mostly avoided them because of their obvious lack of nutritional content. =)
In a world full of hatred, crime, perversion, immorality, and all sorts of ungodliness, you may wonder how you, a mother, can make a difference.  If mothers only knew what kind of difference they can make, I believe mothers would spend more time reading the Word and less time surfing the internet for some new motherhood blog.  They would use more of their time in prayer and less time on FB and texting on their phones.  Days would be spent with their children instead of pursuing a career.  If possible, they would make great sacrifices (cook from scratch, learn how to live by a budget, grow some vegetables, pray for wisdom, etc) so they could survive on one income.  Mothers would read aloud to their children instead of opening up some paperback fiction.  They would trade TV time for games with the family.  

We need to ask God to open our eyes so we can see our children as tomorrow’s forefathers instead of as a burden or distraction.  Our children are being formed into adults TODAY!  The training, teaching, nurturing, and loving begins when that new life is being formed.  

One very important aspect of raising children that is often neglected is appetite.  We should very carefully guard our children’s appetites so that they will grow to love that which is pure and good. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

The following are two vital, yet greatly neglected, appetites that mothers should take great care to nurture and train.
1. Physical Food
If little children are fed a constant diet of mac & cheese, candy, hotdogs, etc. how can they learn to eat food that will strengthen their bodies and keep them fit for serving God?  Countless times I have heard “my child is a picky eater!”.  Did you know that it is possible to train appetites?   Here are 4 simple suggestions for educating/changing your child’s eating habits:
A. Develop good eating habits for your infant
 Appetites are actually developed in the womb!! Yes, you can help your child love their vegetables by making good choices during your pregnancy. When your baby is ready for food, these good habits can be nurtured by introducing mashed vegetables before cereal and fruit.
B. Allow no snacking except for vegetables until your child has learned to cheerfully eat whatever is placed before him at meal times 
Giving your child 3 square meals a day with no snacks in between-no fruit juice, milk, apples, cheerios, popsicles, candy, etc. etc. etc. will greatly improve the chance that your child will eat what is placed before him at mealtimes.
C. Serve simple meals with little or no dessert 

A great breakfast is eggs, oranges, and muffins; lunch coud be wraps with veggies &amp, cheese/soup/bread; for dinner you could have rice and hamburger casserole, green beans, and a salad.  If your child is “STRONG-WILLED” and chooses not to eat what you fixed, just smile and tell them you will put their food in the fridge until they are hungry for it.  If you are feeling exceptionally kind, you can heat it up for them when they are ready to eat it. =) I have also served the salad first with a promise that more food would be served when the salad was eaten. (A certain toddler in our house, who shall remain unnamed, was not fond of lettuce. It was astonishing to see how well he ate a moderate helping of lettuce when it was the only food on his plate. The ending to this story is that this young man now enjoys large helpings of salad!)  A hungry toddler who has not had snacks, WILL eat even the more undesirable foods if they are truly hungry. Believe me when I tell you that we have learned these lessons through trial and error and with God’s grace.

D.This is probably the MOST important-be a good example!  

Learn to enjoy your veggies, make good food (herbs & spices make food amazingly yummy!), and serve it cheerfully.

 2) Media
In this area most people would consider our family quite narrow minded indeed.  In our family we have made the decision to not allow video games (except an occasional typing program), excessive texting, young children having email accounts & phones, and most movies.  There is way too much to do in life for us to be spending excessive time on the internet or in front of a TV. I am especially concerned to see large numbers of parents entertaining children as young as 7-9 months old with videos on their phones.  This is harmful to the babies’ brain in so many ways. 
It takes patience and careful training, but even infants can be taught to sit still without constant entertainment. As we have traveled across the country, we have heard heartbreaking stories of young people and parents who are addicted to their phones, video games, movies, and pornography.  Somewhere these addictions began as one video game, one harmless movie, one look at a magazine or internet site, or a simple cell phone without any guidelines. 
(If you are interested in further resources, “Captivated”, by Philip Telfer, is a an excellent documentary that looks at the detrimental effects that media can have on our minds)

I wish changing media appetites were as simple as changing food appetites but unfortunately, that is not the case. If you find yourself with these kinds of addictions, God is willing and able to give victory to those who will do what 11 Chronicles 7:14 tells us to do, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Here are a few ideas on how to develop pure appetites for your children:

A. Pray that your children will love the Word of God
Read it to them often- daily. Teach  them to establish their own personal time in the Word (as soon as they can read) and prayer (when they begin to talk) every day.  This is taught best by your example as they see you begin every day with God. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” –Matthew 6:33
B. Be part of a Bible-believing church where God’s Word is preached without apology + reaching the lost is a priority
C. Practice hospitality 

Invite your neighbors, a family from church, a missionary or evangelist passing through your area, or family members over for a Saturday brunch, a Sunday lunch after church, or an evening meal. Teach your children how to cook and serve a balanced meal. 
D. Do ministry together
Sing at your local nursing home. Visit a widow. Take a meal to a young family or someone in need. Rake leaves for an elderly woman living alone. Volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Reach out to your neighbors. There are ministry opportunities no matter where you live!
E. Read, read, read to your children
Start by reading the Word of God aloud to your child in the womb. Continue with reading during feeding time with your infant. A toddler will enjoy snuggling on your lap for short Bible Stories with colorful pictures. (My favorite is Uncle Arthur’s Bible Stories)  Read stories that teach your children good character. Missionary stories and biographies are a favorite at our house. Why have a book that doesn’t teach good values or morals?  ( (Be watching for our recommended reading list, coming soon!)
F. Play games
When our children were younger, we played Memory, Candy Land, Uncle Wiggly, and Shoots & Ladders. These games teach counting and color skills, memory skills (how many times was I beat by a 3 yr old in a game of memory?!), and the joys of winning and losing.  These days we play Dutch Blitz, Scrabble, Rook, Boggle, Settlers of Catan, and Axis & Allies.  🙂
G. Make music together
Sing unto the Lord.  We recently met a family with young children (all under the age of 14, I believe) who will sometimes stay up quite late playing their instruments and singing together just because they love it!  I don’t suppose they have much time to watch movies or play video games!
H. Work

You can read more about this topic here.

If you occupy your family with all of the above, there really won’t be much time left for other distractions and unprofitable activities. 

Above all else, you must pray for your children.  Pray that they will love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Pray that they will seek first the Kingdom of God.  Pray that they will stay pure in mind, spirit, soul, and body.  Guard their little hearts very carefully.  Know that one opportunity to view porn or watch an ungodly movie can start an appetite that can turn into an addiction very quickly.  Teach your children to love what God loves and hate what God hates. (You can guard your internet and keep them from bad influences when they are little, but someday they will grow up and need to choose good from evil for themselves)  

Know that you can make a difference in the life of your children today by praying for them, spending time with them, and helping them cultivate good appetites, 
such as a diet of “broccoli versus oreos”.  =)

“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.”
-Isaiah 54:13
{written by Becky}


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Leave a Reply
  1. Thank you, Mrs. Bontrager, for this post. You have given me helpful insight and made me laugh at certain points. (Especially about the no-salad eater!)
    I could not believe the photos! Was those the three youngest in the last picture?
    Thank you again and have a blessed evening!) -Paige 🙂

  2. Great and encouraging post! I am a mother of children who are 11 and up to young adult. I would be so appreciative if you could post anything on motherhood in that area of ages.

    1. Yes, this post series is specifically geared for mothers with younger children. I will keep in mind the idea of posting about mothering older ones. It is a completely different stage, for sure! =)

  3. Did you practice the Pearl Method of blanket training (put a young child on a blanket, then hit him or her if they tried to get off or reach a toy)? When you mentioned young babies could be trained to sit quietly and still, I remembered reading of these people and those practices. I find it so sad sad to treat a young baby this way. I am not speaking of discipline, I am talking about hitting a baby when he or she naturally reaches for a toy that is obviously theirs and then wiggles off the blanket and then are hit.

    1. I don't remember hearing of the "Pearl Method" but we did teach our children to play quietly on a blanket. We found that this basic training taught our children self-control and contentment, two character qualities which are so beneficial in every area of life.

  4. Thank you for this encouraging post! We are just starting out our journey of parenthood and have chosen to put many of these principles in place. It definitely seems to take more time, intentionality, and patience, and as a mom in the thick of things it is encouraging to hear from a seasoned mother that the effort is worth it!!

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