When it Comes to Parenting, Advice is NOT “One Size Fits All”

By Inda Brink, LMFT

Years ago, a mom in my mother’s group asked the group for advice. She admitted her child was a picky eater. My ears perked up, for I too had a picky eater at home. I knew how difficult that can be! One mom proudly stated, “Well, my kids eat whatever I make for them, and they HAVE to eat it.” Another mom said, “Everyone NEEDS to try everything that is on their plate.” With each piece of advice, my heart sank lower. The reality in my home was different. Not only was my child a picky eater, he gagged at certain foods. If we weren’t careful, he’d throw up right there at the table! Needless to say, going out to eat or going to another family’s home for dinner was not a fun event for us. We would take foods for him with us wherever we went. As I sat there in the mother’s group that day, all I could think was: These other moms don’t get it. Sure, this advice may work for 80% of families, but for my family? Absolutely NOT!

I realized that we really needed help. I had already talked to our pediatrician who had offered advice which also didn’t work. I went back to talk with her again and explained things weren’t getting better. What we had been doing was not helping him. Our pediatrician referred us to a professional, a specialist who helped children to overcome their eating habits. After our first meeting, we promptly began doing things differently. As parents we learned new techniques. We all followed her advice. Every day we diligently did the homework she prescribed.

What I learned from this experience is that there are times when we need professional help, even with something as simple as eating.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist working with children and adolescents and their parents, I have heard many stories of seeking answers and finding nothing helpful. I understand by the time parents ask for help, they may feel at “the end of their rope.” Parents may feel desperate, having tried every piece of advice with no success, leaving them feeling even more lost, confused and alone. There are times when advice doesn’t work and you need more guidance. It is time for an expert, someone with specialized training, who has seen it before, and understands working with this problem in its most serious form. Don’t be afraid to tell your pediatrician that the advice hasn’t worked and your child needs more help. Ask again: Who is the professional who could best help? Child therapists, psychologists, educational therapists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and medical specialists all have specialized training to help when the everyday advice simply doesn’t work.

Today, if you saw my child, you would never guess that he was an extreme picky eater. He eats everything. But between you and me, it was quite the journey to get here! I remember that with every bite he takes.


Please note that Child & Family Counseling Group, Inc. is a private organization and we are not a crisis center.  

​If you or your child is currently experiencing a crisis in which anyone is feeling unsafe, please contact:

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Suicide & Crisis Hotline at 855-278-4204


In case of life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Other resources for help in a crisis

Bill Wilson Center SOS Crisis Hotline 408-278-2585
BWC’s SOS Crisis Hotline is a specialized line answering calls 24/7 from parents, teachers, and community support persons for children and youth who are experiencing an immediate behavioral or mental health escalation or crisis. They provide an urgent phone or in-person response to help de-escalate and stabilize the situation.

Domestic Violence 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Advocates are available 24/7 in more than 200 languages. All calls are free and confidential.

National Eating Disorders Association Helpline (800) 931-2237
Contact the Helpline for support, resources and treatment options for yourself or a loved one.
Helpline Phone hours are Monday-Thursday from 11AM to 9PM ET, and Friday from 11AM to 5PM ET.
Helpline Chat hours are Monday-Thursday from 9AM to 9PM ET and Friday 9AM to 5PM ET.
Helpline volunteers are trained to help you find the information and support you are looking for. Reach out today!

National Parent Helpline:  1-855-427-2736

24/7 Teenline for Youth: 1-888-247-7717

Santa Clara County Mobile Crisis Response (for adults in crisis) 1-800-704-0900

Crisis Textline text HOME to 741741

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