One of the challenges we have had with the twins adjusting to their new home has been the issue of food. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about the hoarding food as some adopted children have learned to do. We don't have to struggle with severe food allergies. We struggle with honesty.
From the beginning, we expected that they might try to say what they thought we wanted to hear. We expected them to try to fit in as best they could, even if it meant not being honest. It's kind of like the kids who come over for a sleepover and politely eat the dinner and say they enjoyed it, even though it was something vile like brussels sprouts. In our case, we don't eat brussels sprouts and this sleepover is permanent. We attempted to protect the twins from the problem of lying to try to please...
We noticed that the kids seemed very up front about what they liked. They claimed to like many things. Bluffing, however, is not their strength. It was quickly obvious they had falsely claimed to like some foods. We were very upfront and told them that we just really want to learn what they like and what they don't like. If they say the like something, then they could expect to see more of it. If they didn't like it, they needed to let us know so they don't have to keep eating it. We told them we wanted to let them enjoy food as much as possible.
In spite of repeating this message, we are discovering now several foods that they have claimed to like but didn't. Bacon. Yes. Bacon. Our daughter claimed to "love" bacon and called it "Yummy." She would get seconds and thirds and ask for it on pizza. Now. It's yucky. Her struggles are a little more complex and may be affecting this issue, but our son has finally admitted to not liking sandwiches of any kind. We could tell over the last month that he was not really liking them and finally he admitted it this week. Basically, he ate sandwiches for six months when he could have had something different.
One of the ways we are trying to help them communicate this is through an idea he came up with himself. We take a dry erase board and draw a line across it. At one end of the line we write the word "Yummy." At the other end we write, "Yucky." Then we name a food like rice and gravy. Then each kid can point to where they are on the "Flavor Spectrum" based on how much they like the food. They had fun with it and even quizzed us a little.
At the heart of this issue is trust. They are beginning to trust more and know that we love them and accept them. As they learn to trust this, they open up more about their true feelings, thoughts, and even their past. They are beginning to learn that we love them right where they are, but that we love them too much to let them remain as they are. Honesty about simple things like food can lead to honesty about the deeper issues of life. The bonus is that you don't have to pretend to like brussels sprouts!