Vegetarian Mom vs. Meat Eating Kids

Chow on 04.16.11
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I found it interesting that the same day Jenni's thoughtful and informative post on feeding your small children a vegetarian diet appeared on Parentables, my local newspaper, the Globe and Mail ran a story about a woman whose children were raised as vegetarians and had started eating meat. The mother was furious with them and refused to have meat in the house, even though her children were eating it outside of their home. Finally her husband stepped in and suggested that they could have a miserable family life, or she could bend a little. She relented because she didn't want to be a "dictator" in her home. She still doesn't eat meat herself, but she does allow it to be served.

This raises a lot of issues about how we raise our children, about when we are firm or when we cut them some slack and what we do when children don't agree with our viewpoint. I can see how hurtful this situation could be, especially if you are a vegetarian for ethical reasons. Having your children eat meat would seem like a complete repudiation of your beliefs. On the other hand, this woman was a teenager herself when she became a vegetarian and she mentions that her 90 year old mother still doesn't understand it. Can't she see that her mother may have been just as upset about her child becoming vegetarian? Sometimes we have to acknowledge that the way we view things may be different from the view of those closest to us.

No doubt there are many issues that can and will divide parents and children, such as religion, politics, sexual orientation, education, and even work ethic. Everyone has their own way of raising their children and their own attitudes, but I have always felt that I wanted to raise my children to be independent. You cannot follow your children around every day and guide them, nor can they live in a bubble. Children will be influenced by other family members, by teachers, by peers. As they get older, you have to trust that you have taught them well and hope they will do the right thing. Of course they will make mistakes, even errors in judgement, that's how we learn. (I'm not talking about risky or dangerous behaviors here, you have to deal with those right away). I wanted my kids to question things and come to their own conclusions rather than thinking and living just as we do. At some point "because I say so" just doesn't hold any sway.

When all is said and done, it's their life and they have to live with their own choices, not yours. As Jenni says in her article "Although it will break my heart a little, I will give my kids the choice to choose veggie or carnivore diet when they are old enough to make an educated decision." Can't say any fairer than that.

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