by Sarah Bowen
Although our project is about families and the things that affect families’ and children’s health, so far, we have mostly talked to moms and grandmothers. These have been fascinating conversations, and we have learned so much from all of the women we’ve talked to: about shopping, cooking, parenting, and more! However, as we start thinking about next year, when we will conduct our last round of interviews, we hope that we will have a chance to talk to some of the children in the families in our study.
When we started our research several years ago, these kids were between 2 and 8 years old: too young to participate. However, this means that they will be between 7 and 13 next year. Some studies have suggested that while adults—and especially parents– have important things to say about the things that affect kids’ food choices and health, it’s also important to talk to the kids themselves. For example, when one study asked both kids and adults to talk about their experiences with food insecurity, they found that kids talked about their experiences in ways that were different from how their parents described food insecurity. This makes sense; we all experience things differently, and this is true with children as well. So, next year, we hope we will have the chance to interview at least some of the children in our study. The interviews will not be as long; we know that kids’ attention spans are shorter than adults! And they will cover topics that we think kids would be comfortable tal
king about: what foods they like or dislike, what food memories are important to them, how they make food choices, what they think about nutrition and health, or how they help (or don’t help) with food-related chores.
We just wanted to give a heads-up that we hope to hear more from kids. We have gotten to know them a little through our interviews with their mothers and grandmothers, and we think that they have a lot of interesting things to say about food! We already started to involve kids a little last year, by having the older kids in our study tell us (in phone interviews) about what they had eaten over the course of a day. In general, the kids did a great job, with their parents’ help. If you have been part of our study, you will get more details to help you decide whether you want your kids to participate… but we hope that they will!