Not an issue for a while, but.. (meat related) - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 99 Old 08-03-2010, 10:02 PM
 
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I would eat veal before I would do that. (And I am NOT a person who eats veal.)
Yes but why don't you eat veal? Is it the taste, texture or some other reason? Surely it's not b/c of a philosophical or moral objection, so this antecdote is inappropriate to the issue.

I think you're giving OP's MIL a little bit too much credit. I think it's pretty clear that she, specifically, isn't interested in feeding the daughter meat (or preparing some special, much labored over meal that contains meat) out of some great sense of love or wanting to express her love through food. It is quite clearly a power struggle. Otherwise, she wouldn't be snarky and would approach the issue in a mature fashion.

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#62 of 99 Old 08-03-2010, 10:55 PM
 
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"You must have a very odd family dynamic if you'd rather hit someone than refuse to eat the food they'd prepared."

I don't think the tone of judgement is necessary, but yes, I suppose that I'm coming from a place where gratitude and respect and important and expressed through eating mama/grandma's cooking at the communal table with the whole family. I can't be the only person here with an Italian MIL. To refuse her the right to choose the foods to lay out on her table would hurt her. Badly. It would call into question her competency in an area of life that she greatly values. I would eat veal before I would do that. (And I am NOT a person who eats veal.)

I don't think it's important for the OP to "allow" her child to someday eat meat, with Grandma or not, but I do think it's important for her to take the time to understand and empathize with her MILs feelings about/around food, and her husband's feelings about/around food, and her own feelings about/around food. Chicken nuggets may be a hill to die on. Are French fries? Industrially produced milk? Candy? Baked goods made with white flour? It's good to know what your issues truly are, where the line is, and whether it's YOUR issue singular or something on which the other parent supports you.

Food's an emotionally loaded commodity, is what I'm saying. It can communicate acceptance and rejection very powerfully.
Smithie: please first understand that I totally know where you are coming from. I have a Jewish/German background and I live in an area of Brooklyn that is, let's say, predominately Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Jewish, Russian, Polish, Egyptian and everything in between (which is only possible in Brooklyn!). I have never encountered, either neighbors or friends or family, who have exhibited any distress in the area of food choices. In fact, most of my contacts, either familial or non-direct, celebrate food in a much different way. Food, while important, is secondary to the celebration. While it is food that brings us together, it is the experience of being together that is paramount. Now, on the other hand, there is the issue of healthy appetite and cleaning one's plate. To snub a good pasta dish, well, that's a different story.

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#63 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 12:58 AM
 
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I don't think the tone of judgement is necessary, but yes, I suppose that I'm coming from a place where gratitude and respect and important and expressed through eating mama/grandma's cooking at the communal table with the whole family.
No judgment. Heaven only knows I've got my fair share of dysfunctional family dynamics. I do think that you need to recognize that if indeed this is such an important issue for your family, that is not true for all/most families. I think that most people are able to recognize that others may have varying tastes, preferences, allergies, and other dietary restrictions. In most families people express their gratitude and respect in other ways, and I didn't see anything in OP's posts indicating that her MIL is coming from this perspective.
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#64 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 11:05 AM
 
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"Yes but why don't you eat veal? Is it the taste, texture or some other reason? Surely it's not b/c of a philosophical or moral objection, so this antecdote is inappropriate to the issue."

Actually, I DO have a moral objection to veal. It's just that I have a greater moral objection to criticizing the food laid out in front of me, or teaching my children that such criticism is socially acceptable. I'd never force a child to eat anything offered to them in another house (family or not), but I also wouldn't interpose myself between hostess and child for anything less than an allergy. I am not invested in controlling what my children ingest when they are being served by somebody other than myself. And I don't think that's dysfunctional - I think it is HIGHLY functional and saves everybody involved a good deal of hassle. Me most of all.

But that's not the ONLY functional approach, which is why I suggested that the OP "take the time to understand and empathize with her MILs feelings about/around food, and her husband's feelings about/around food, and her own feelings about/around food. Chicken nuggets may be a hill to die on. Are French fries? Industrially produced milk? Candy? Baked goods made with white flour? It's good to know what your issues truly are, where the line is, and whether it's YOUR issue singular or something on which the other parent supports you."

You can't GET what you want, until you really KNOW what you want and what the other parties involved want and how that can all be pulled together into a negotiated truce. We're assuming that MIL is an ogre, DH is ineffective in dealing with her and the OP is a beleaguered saint. That approach helps no one, and certainly doesn't help the OP's dd, who deserves to have a strong relationship with her father's loved-and-respected mother. That's only going to happen in OP and her husband change how THEY are acting. MIL, as some have already pointed out, is not a parent and is not ultimately in charge - which sort of limits her ability to take the lead in establishing a healthy family food culture, which I'm going to broadly define as "not having an ongoing power struggle over food."

Several PPs have pointed out that they are part of healthy family food cultures where they are able to impose dietary restrictions without giving offense or being circumvented. It's certainly possible, but I'm sure that if you're starting from a place where your relatives just.doesn't.get.it., there's some work to be done to get there. It's work that's worth doing IMNSHO, so that a baby today isn't a toddler getting negative, conflicting messages about food a few years from now.
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#65 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 12:11 PM
 
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ooh. That situation would burn me up!
I'm not a veg*n, but i have been. we farm, so the meat thing isn't really going to be an issue.
however, to me, it doesn't sound like a meat/veg issue. it sounds like a disrespect and manipulation issue. You make choices for your child. Your mil made choices for her child, and she's done. She needs to listen to you and respect whatever you ask. The bacon-y jibes are over the line, as is the implied secrecy, which only serves to make you uneasy-- i don't see how that sort of comment could be interpreted in any other way except for a passive aggressive way of telling you she intends to do things you disagree with.
I would just straight up say to her that you will not allow unsupervised time with your child if she is unwilling to respect your choices both physically and verbally. Tell her that you expect her to enforce YOUR rules and not hers. Tell her this in such a way that there is no animosity nor any room for argument, just in an A = B sort of way. I wouldn't play those games, because if you open the door to that behavior that's what you will get for the REST of the time.

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#66 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 12:16 PM
 
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Several PPs have pointed out that they are part of healthy family food cultures where they are able to impose dietary restrictions without giving offense or being circumvented. It's certainly possible, but I'm sure that if you're starting from a place where your relatives just.doesn't.get.it., there's some work to be done to get there. It's work that's worth doing IMNSHO, so that a baby today isn't a toddler getting negative, conflicting messages about food a few years from now.
ITA. I guess that's precisely why I am so confused by your strategy. I don't get how seeing you eat something that you don't like and that you have a moral objection to for fear of offending another person helps your children to develop healthy attitudes about food.
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#67 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 12:34 PM
 
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ITA. I guess that's precisely why I am so confused by your strategy. I don't get how seeing you eat something that you don't like and that you have a moral objection to for fear of offending another person helps your children to develop healthy attitudes about food.
or even healthy attitudes about their extended family.

I don't know why I'm so bothered by your posts, Smithie. Honestly, I feel that you are saying that those of us who adhere to food restrictions (or restrictions of any sort) are doing so at the cost of our children's relationship with our parents (or other relatives).

It really hits home, because I very much value extended family relationships. But, I have seen in my own home, what happens when someones role as mother or wife is not respected. It's a recipe for disaster.

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#68 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 12:51 PM
 
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I don't know why I'm so bothered by your posts, Smithie. Honestly, I feel that you are saying that those of us who adhere to food restrictions (or restrictions of any sort) are doing so at the cost of our children's relationship with our parents (or other relatives). .
to this and no5no5

I'm going to just be done with this thread after this b/c I think OP has gotten enough valuable advice and words of comfort from those of us who have been in similar situations, but I just want to give OP one last . You are completely justified in your feelings and know that I, too, would not leave my child unsupervised with someone who joked about giving them meat. I think hildare had a great way to deal with it, but if you are uncomfortable being so blunt about it, I would definitely talk to your husband and ask him to speak gently to his mother about how uncomfortable that makes you (hopefully BOTH of you so you don't come off like the "crazy" DIL) and she needs to respect the choices you've made for your family.

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#69 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 03:30 PM
 
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"I don't know why I'm so bothered by your posts, Smithie. Honestly, I feel that you are saying that those of us who adhere to food restrictions (or restrictions of any sort) are doing so at the cost of our children's relationship with our parents (or other relatives)."

I truly to do think that the OP and her husband are headed down that road, of valuing extremely strict adherence by their child to a lifestyle choice made by one of them over healthy extended family relationships. I think that's a bad idea nine times out of ten. I tend to agree with PPs that this is not really about food. It's about people not valuing each other's roles in the life of the child they all love, and I think that all three members of this triad are doing less than they could be to create a healthy extended family dynamic.

This family has a lot of time and space to work things out before there's any real question of Grandma preparing meals for grandkid, but this enthusiastic chorus of "she is dissing you! Restrict access! You are the parent and The One right Way is for you to make all the choices 100% of the time, present or absent, in your home or in somebody else's home!" bothers ME. I think it fans the flames of a hypothetical conflict between two women who shouldn't be fighting, and disappears the dad, without whom a lasting peace deal cannot be brokered. The OP feels attacked. MIL probably feels attacked, too. Dad feels caught in the middle.

OP can't change MIL's approach, but she CAN change her own approach. That doesn't mean giving up on raising a vegan kid if that's truly where her heart lies, but it DOES mean she needs to start caring about the feelings and perceptions of the other party here, rather than waiting for her to "go senile" so that she won't be bothered by her any more. The woman who did a good job raising your husband is not disposable, even if she is imperfect.

It doesn't concern me that the OP wants veto power every bite that goes into her child's mouth. To each her own. It bothers me that she apparently values that control at 100% and having a good relationship with her husband's mother at 0%, and that nobody but me has suggested that she do the work with her husband and with MIL to get to the point where they have an agreed-up set of standards for child-related issues that everybody can live with. It might not work, but that doesn't mean that it's not the central problem here. I really think it is. She'd be just as happy if MIL ceased to exist tomorrow, and MIL probably feels the same way about her. That's no way to live.
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#70 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 03:47 PM
 
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It doesn't concern me that the OP wants veto power every bite that goes into her child's mouth. To each her own. It bothers me that she apparently values that control at 100% and having a good relationship with her husband's mother at 0%, and that nobody but me has suggested that she do the work with her husband and with MIL to get to the point where they have an agreed-up set of standards for child-related issues that everybody can live with. It might not work, but that doesn't mean that it's not the central problem here. I really think it is. She'd be just as happy if MIL ceased to exist tomorrow, and MIL probably feels the same way about her. That's no way to live.
I think you should go back and reread this thread, if that is the impression you got. I got the impression that OP very much wanted MIL to be a part of her child's life and that that was non-negotiable. I read many people's responses, my own included, as advising that she focus on improving the relationship dynamics in her family. Obviously we have different ideas of what constitutes a healthy relationship with the grandparents of one's children, but I don't think that you can fairly take credit for being the only one who recognizes that there is a problem that this family should work on.
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#71 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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Fair enough. Maybe I've gotten too hung up on one phrase typed in the heat of anger.
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#72 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 04:13 PM
 
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I have a greater moral objection to criticizing the food laid out in front of me
What if it was people? Like, a human head?

Because moral vegetarianism is for many based on the belief that all animals deserve the same reverence we accord people, at least with respect to whether or not they may be killed for food.

Do you believe it's wrong for Jews and Muslims to politely decline pork or other non-kosher or non-halal foods? ("Thank you, I do appreciate it, but I really can't. The salad looks fantastic.")

I think that you are really not taking the vegetarian ethic very seriously. You will see that I argue very much for grandparent's rights, even to feed candy, watch TV, etc. but I also think that asking someone to abandon their parent's philosophical beliefs or religion is just not right.

And I do think that is probably where the grandparents here are not getting the point either. They simply do not and can not understand the moral objection to eating meat, that it's not like, "Oh, don't hurt a cow!" when life is full of pain and vegetarians know that.

It's something much different, an entirely different way of looking at animal life.

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#73 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 04:46 PM
 
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"What if it was people? Like, a human head?"

Actual (Catholic) and symbolic (Protestant) cannibalism is a pretty common thing, actually, and something I don't partake of because I'm not a Christian. Nor do I criticize it. Would I stop my kids from doing it? Probably not - I certainly wouldn't rudely interrupt a religious service to keep them from munching on what I regard as a piece of bread! - but I wouldn't think much of the person who offered the Eucharist to a Jewish six-year-old. It wouldn't bother ME, but it would surely be offensive to the other Christians present!

(I know that isn't what you're talking about, you're thinking more along the lines of a grisly severed head, and I honestly can't tell you how I'd react to that. Nobody has ever served me or my kids a head. But I don't have an inherent moral opposition to eating the dead flesh of any animal. The cannibalism taboo is a cultural more.)

The kosher issue is something that's very much present in my life, and I am strongly opposed to strict kosher observance. I think it promotes insularity and intolerance - once you take it too far, you and your kids literally cannot eat in the home of anybody outside of your own sect - not even other Jews. I don't observe strict kashrut, and I don't accommodate it. Nor do I attempt to force people to eat pork. Not am I forced by others to eat pork.

Anybody who's presenting their veganism the way the Orthodox present their kashrut is going to get a hostile reaction from me. But you know what? In all my years of adult life, I have never met a single vegan who copped that kind of attitude or criticized the food I was serving. It hasn't happened once. Vegans are easy to feed. Half the time they start by bringing their own food, and then once they get to know you enough to trust you not to feed them lard-fried beans, you know THEM well enough to have a short mental list of things you should provide. I don't know how seriously is "seriously enough" to taken veganism, but I certainly take it seriously enough to be able to accommodate it without calling attention to my vegan guest.

OP, we are now ranging widely from your original issue.
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#74 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 05:03 PM
 
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Catholics are not cannibals. This is a misunderstanding of the Eucharist & transubstantiation. Out of the scope of this thread but I just wanted to point that out.

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#75 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 05:44 PM
 
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"What if it was people? Like, a human head?"



(I know that isn't what you're talking about,

No, not at all. I'm saying, presumably, you find it ethically repugnant to kill people for food, and vegetarians, in the same way (well, some of them) find it equally repugnant to kill other animals for food.

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Anybody who's presenting their veganism the way the Orthodox present their kashrut is going to get a hostile reaction from me.


Why? Because you don't view philosophical vegetarianism as a "real" religion like Judaism?

I don't get this. I think you just don't take vegetarians seriously.

What about a Buddhist or Hindu? Would you let THEM raise their kids vegetarians?

You keep going back to "lifestyle". Vegetarianism is not a lifestyle for many. It's a choice based on ethical beliefs about what kind of beings animals are, and how we ought to treat animals and other kinds of sentient beings.

How many tens or hundreds or thousands of years does vegetarianism have to be in the family before you can accept it?

I find your views on philosophical / ethical vegetarianism quite bigoted. Something not need be codified in a major religion to be a serious belief worthy of respect!

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#76 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 07:42 PM
 
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Why? Because you don't view philosophical vegetarianism as a "real" religion like Judaism?
Actually she just said she was very opposed to strictly keeping kosher. So that means that her treating vegetarianism the same way *is* giving it tons of respect. Just not in the way you want her to.

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#77 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 08:04 PM
 
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"I'm saying, presumably, you find it ethically repugnant to kill people for food, and vegetarians, in the same way (well, some of them) find it equally repugnant to kill other animals for food."

Oh, OK. I didn't get that.

That's an interesting question.

If somebody sat down at a table, saw the roasted haunch of murdered Uncle Fred on the carving platter, and jumped up shrieking "You people are monsters!" I'd be in total sympathy with that. I would also run screaming from the room.

The same scenario with the Thanksgiving turkey? I'd think, "Wow, what a UAV. Who invited that jerk to dinner?" and then I'd eat my turkey.

If that means that I don't respect the beliefs of people who consider animal murder to be the moral equivalent of human murder, OK. But I have NEVER met a vegetarian or vegan who has in any way indicated that they believe that. Ever. EVER. I have, in fact, never been treated with anything but the greatest courtesy by non-meat-eaters who were trying to figure out how to share the social experience of eating with my omnivorous family.
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#78 of 99 Old 08-04-2010, 11:41 PM
 
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I think comparing ethical vegetarianism to religious dietary restrictions is a bit off base. Making an ethical choice to not eat animals really should be compared to other ethical choices we might make for our children. For example if I chose not to dress my child in clothing made in sweat shops. Or if my child only could have fair trade toys. These are wonderful choices, but would it be worth ruining my and my child's relationship with their grandparent if they continued to buy gifts of clothing and toy that didn't meet my ethical standards. Obviously you don't want to compromise on things that could do emotional or physical harm to your child, but this isn't the case here. Also I think the grandmother is probably pushing on this issue so hard because she feels judged. When someone vehemently argues that her child won't eat meat on moral/ethical grounds, it seems pretty easy to interpret that as "And we are morally superior to you because you have not chosen that path." I'm not saying the OP is being judgmental, but I surely can see how the MIL might interpret it that way. Also it is interesting to me that obviously both parents don't see eye to eye on the moral/ethical implication of eating meat. So it seems odd to me that the path of greatest restriction was taken rather than least restriction. Now in all fairness I'll admit that I don't see dietary issues in absolutes. I try to buy humanely raised meat when we can afford it. I feed my family mostly homecooked healthy food. But my attitude for my kids has always been when in Rome, do as the Romans. So if Nana wants to take my kid for a Happy Meal, big deal. And even if we got to the point where all our food was locally grown/produced and all meat was humanely raised (which is an eventual goal for us) I wouldn't complain about the occasional factory farmed steak that the kids might eat at the grandparents house. I suppose if I really felt that eating animals was on par with eating people or murder in general I might feel different. Of course if I honestly felt it was the moral equivalent of murdering people, than I don't think I would be able to maintain my relationships with non-vegetarians because I know I couldn't be friends with actual murderers.

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#79 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 12:35 AM
 
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I see this issue as equivalent to the decision to breastfeed rather than formula feed. I can't imagine anyone on the MDC boards responding with an "Oh, well, when in Rome" to a situation in which a mother who had chosen to exclusively breastfeed was dealing with a MIL who was joking about sneaking her baby a bottle of formula. Sure, the MIL may feel that formula is healthier. Sure, she may feel that the mother is judging her for using formula with her kids. Sure, she may honestly believe that it would be better if the mother just stopped breastfeeding and used formula instead. But none of that can possibly excuse the kind of behavior the OP has posted about.
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#80 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 02:41 AM
 
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I suppose that I'm coming from a place where gratitude and respect and important and expressed through eating mama/grandma's cooking at the communal table with the whole family.
But, why does only mama/grandma deserve respect? If someone deliberately cooks something for me that he/she knows I don't eat - especially if I don't eat it for ethical or health reasons (ie. not just being "picky"), they're not treating me with any respect. Why on earth would they expect me to show them the "respect" of eating it? This makes no sense to me at all.

The OP's MIL is being really disrespectful of their choices about their parenting and their diet. I don't see any reason why the OP should respect her MIL's disrespect. I also can't see any reason to be grateful for the "I'm going to feed you stuff your parents don't want you to have as soon as I can pull it off behind their backs" type of attitude.

And, I say all this as someone who isn't even remotely vegetarian, has never even considered being vegetarian and whose family eats meat at almost every dinner.

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#81 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 10:43 AM
 
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I see this issue as equivalent to the decision to breastfeed rather than formula feed. I can't imagine anyone on the MDC boards responding with an "Oh, well, when in Rome" to a situation in which a mother who had chosen to exclusively breastfeed was dealing with a MIL who was joking about sneaking her baby a bottle of formula. Sure, the MIL may feel that formula is healthier. Sure, she may feel that the mother is judging her for using formula with her kids. Sure, she may honestly believe that it would be better if the mother just stopped breastfeeding and used formula instead. But none of that can possibly excuse the kind of behavior the OP has posted about.
Smithie (and others) -- I'm curious about your feelings on that?

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Sorry OP, that this has become such a delicate discussion, but after reading all the posts I'm coming to terms with the fact that there is not going to be a meeting of the minds here because there are wildly opposing levels of value being placed on your particular choice. For some, your choice is about lifestyle, one that is easily bendable. It can be confusing for some meat eaters because vegetarianism is often lumped with lifestyle choices like not eating sugar, or choosing between organic and non-organic. For others, your choice is a moral one. I happen to be in the camp that my dietary choices are moral choices, and I'm not going to do "as they do in Rome" because it is in direct conflict with what I believe is right and wrong. For me, there is no grey area. Does that mean I'm going to be rude and judgmental and a loser to be around? Of course not, in fact I try to avoid conflict. At the same time, however, I don't think that the only way to show "respect" is to compromise your own belief systems in order to avoid conflict or hurting another's feelings. There is no shame in setting your own boundaries. I agree with others that respect runs both ways. Granted, I could present a laundry list of all the things that other people consider moral choices which don't cross my radar. But I need to remind myself that those choices are important to those individuals, and even though I don't particularly agree with the premise of those choices, I should respect them and not purposefully put those individuals in an uncomfortable position.

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#83 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 12:53 PM
 
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you know, the thing is.. whether you agree or not with the dietary choices of the OP, regardless of whether she thinks something that may seem as different to you as her kids need to only eat yellow foods on wednesday while standing on their heads, her mother in law needs to respect her choices. SHE is the parent of the child. Parents of children have the absolute right to make decisions for their own children, and have the right to a reasonable expectation that everyone abide by those choices. period.

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#84 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 01:44 PM
 
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you know, the thing is.. whether you agree or not with the dietary choices of the OP, regardless of whether she thinks something that may seem as different to you as her kids need to only eat yellow foods on wednesday while standing on their heads, her mother in law needs to respect her choices. SHE is the parent of the child. Parents of children have the absolute right to make decisions for their own children, and have the right to a reasonable expectation that everyone abide by those choices. period.
I disagree strongly with the bolded portion. Yes, you have the right to make whatever choices you want for your child, but when those choices are outside of societal norms, you have no reasonable expectation for others to make the same choices. For better or worse, if you think that every other person your child comes into contact with must adhere to your personal codes and ethics 100%, you're going to make yourself infinitely stressed and frustrated at best.

Parents with kids who have life-threatening allergies are often great examples of this. To keep their kids *alive* they assume that people will NOT adhere to their kids' needs, and plan accordingly. Parents of kids who have life-threatening immune issues don't demand the world sanitize itself; they figure out how to co-exist in a filthy, dangerous world while preserving their kids' freedoms and relationships as much as they can.

If parents of kids who literally will *die* if they eat peanuts can figure out how to get through the day with familial relationships intact, surely parents with ethical food issues can, too.

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#85 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 02:14 PM
 
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If parents of kids who literally will *die* if they eat peanuts can figure out how to get through the day with familial relationships intact, surely parents with ethical food issues can, too.
If my MIL informed me that she would feed my child peanuts, despite a potentially fatal allergy, my interest in keeping that familial relationship intact would be pretty much nil. I realize I have the luxury of having a mom and in-laws who don't make a hobby of disrespecting our parental decisions, but I wouldn't put up with this kind of crap, either.

The issue for this particular relationship isn't meat. The issue is the that MIL is being deliberately and unreasonably disrespectful. There's a big difference between "I'm sorry - I didn't realize you were vegetarian and I gave your dd/ds [fill in meat here] for lunch" and "I think your vegetarianism is ridiculous, so I'm taunting you with my intent to disregard it and feed your ds/dd [fill in meat here]"...huge difference. People with children with food allergies are very watchful, because there's always the possibility of the first...but the second is something else again, and nobody should have to be on guard against close family members choosing to deliberately feed their children against their ethical beliefs or health.

FWIW, my grandmother did the "feed the kids things their mother doesn't agree with". She didn't tell my mom, and actually bribed us not to tell (and painted mom as the bad guy, with "your mother wouldn't let you stay here if she knew", which wasn't even 100% accurate). In the long run, it cost her all semblance of a relationship with me, to the point that my dominant emotion when she died was relief. Messing around with children's relationships with their parents isn't benign, no matter how often people pull out the "it's a grandparent's job to spoil their grandchildren" or "family is more important" or any other mantras.

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#86 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 02:36 PM
 
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I disagree strongly with the bolded portion. Yes, you have the right to make whatever choices you want for your child, but when those choices are outside of societal norms, you have no reasonable expectation for others to make the same choices. For better or worse, if you think that every other person your child comes into contact with must adhere to your personal codes and ethics 100%, you're going to make yourself infinitely stressed and frustrated at best.

Parents with kids who have life-threatening allergies are often great examples of this. To keep their kids *alive* they assume that people will NOT adhere to their kids' needs, and plan accordingly. Parents of kids who have life-threatening immune issues don't demand the world sanitize itself; they figure out how to co-exist in a filthy, dangerous world while preserving their kids' freedoms and relationships as much as they can.

If parents of kids who literally will *die* if they eat peanuts can figure out how to get through the day with familial relationships intact, surely parents with ethical food issues can, too.
Hildare can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think she was referring to the idea that the world should automatically adhere to one's personal ethics/codes. I think she was referring to the most recent discussion of respecting others choices/limitations once one has been put on notice of those choices/limitations. I think it is reasonable to expect people to respect your limitations once you put them on notice. For example, I shouldn't be expected to know about a child's allergies unless I'm put on notice, but once put on notice, it would be unreasonable, and even wrong, for me to continue to offer said child nuts or the like. Strange thing is, threatening food allergies are so prevelant now that I will always tell someone that a food item that I prepared has nuts, soy, etc. Or, I refrain from sending any items to school or parties that contain nuts, simply because there is always the risk.

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...they figure out how to co-exist in a filthy, dangerous world while preserving their kids' freedoms and relationships as much as they can.
That is what many people are suggesting above...learning to co-exist in a world while maintaining freedoms and relationships. Again, co-existence takes effort on both sides, especially when all parties are aware of the issues. It is always prudent to be on the defensive, but it is not unreasonable to expect others to honor your requests to refrain from giving your child something once your limitation is known.

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." Charles Lamb.
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#87 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 03:43 PM
 
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I see this issue as equivalent to the decision to breastfeed rather than formula feed. I can't imagine anyone on the MDC boards responding with an "Oh, well, when in Rome" to a situation in which a mother who had chosen to exclusively breastfeed was dealing with a MIL who was joking about sneaking her baby a bottle of formula. Sure, the MIL may feel that formula is healthier. Sure, she may feel that the mother is judging her for using formula with her kids. Sure, she may honestly believe that it would be better if the mother just stopped breastfeeding and used formula instead. But none of that can possibly excuse the kind of behavior the OP has posted about.
The difference is that when a child is being exclusively breastfed, the importance lies in the exclusivity of it. I for one would not have cared if my toddler who ate a variety of foods, including breastmilk was given a bottle or more likely a sippy cup of formula by a grandparent. It wouldn't endanger her health and it wouldn't likely hamper our nursing relationship at that point. Yes during the time that my baby was exclusively breastfeeding, I would explain that my concerns are about maintaining a virgin gut and my milk supply as well as preventing nipple confusion. I guess also my own child's desires and relationship with my MIL would factor into this greatly. I know my babies have never been into bottles and certainly never wanted any form of breastmilk substitute (formula, cow's milk, soy milk), but frankly if my kids are hanging out with my MIL or my own mom for the day and they're old enough that they are eating a variety of foods, then the grandparents can feed them whatever they want (assuming they wouldn't feed the kid poison or hard alcohol or something that was truly dangerous) I see it as an issue between my child and the caregiver. If my child were being watched by a grandparent on a much more regular basis (like several times a week, every week) then I would likely set some more specific guidelines, but I really believe that what your child learns from you the parent and sees you do every day has much more influence on their behavior and health in the long run. I guess that even if I believe strongly against something, if I'm prepared to let my child make their own choice about long before they're an adult, than it probably doesn't matter if I give them the freedom to make that choice a bit earlier. I just don't see any one food as so inherently dangerous that a little nibble given by grandma is the end of the world.

All that being said there are some things concerning food that I would put my foot down about because I believe they are emotionally damaging. No using food as punishment or bribe. No tricking my kid into eating something. For example I would be livid if my child was lied to and told she was eating tofu and it was really chicken or something. And no "clean plate club."

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#88 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 04:32 PM
 
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When my infants were very young, they were exclusively breastfed and on the rare occasions that I left them, they had EBM. I don't know how I would have reacted to a caregiver offering formula without my permission - it never happened that I know of. They were offered formula as older infants, but with my permission.

Now all three of my kids are food-eating people, and I do not seek to have control over the foods (including formula) that they eat outside my house. I feel that it would be alienating to my extended family to insist on that level of control, and I place no value on exercising that level of control. In fact, I think that exercising that level of control has negative emotional and social repercussions, and I'm very very glad that there are no allergies that force me to feed my kid out of a Tupperware at parties and make him skip the birthday cake. Very, very glad.

How does this relate to the OP? While I don't think she needs to share my values around food in order to have a happy family life, I think it would be really great if she is able to clarify her own and her husband's values, and find a way to constructively and effectively get Grandma on board with the long-range nutrition plan. "I am the MOTHER and I have the POWER and IF YOU DISOBEY ME I CAN PUNISH YOU," while true, is maybe not the best starting point. When you want somebody to do things a certain way, you should really be prepared to tell them why.

It's not inherently pathological to be reluctant to order your parents around, and eager to find a way to get what you need that doesn't devolve into threats and power moves over how they do things in their own homes. If the OP's husband is feeling that reluctance, then it's not necessarily a flaw in his parenting. It may, in fact, be an area of strength in his relationship with his mother that he and the OP can leverage. People who are bad at at taking orders can be very gracious about accommodating requests.
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#89 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 06:11 PM
 
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Actually she just said she was very opposed to strictly keeping kosher. So that means that her treating vegetarianism the same way *is* giving it tons of respect. Just not in the way you want her to.
Actually, that's not very respectful at all, assuming that ethical and metaphysical beliefs are somehow not as important as other beliefs, unless, presumably, they are her own!

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The same scenario with the Thanksgiving turkey? I'd think, "Wow, what a UAV. Who invited that jerk to dinner?" and then I'd eat my turkey.

If that means that I don't respect the beliefs of people who consider animal murder to be the moral equivalent of human murder, OK.
Well, at least you know you don't respect them.

I know a NUMBER of vegetarians--and incidentally, in my teens, I was among them--who believed all sentient beings to be morally equivalent to humans.

Simply put, "Do not kill" applies to animals as well as people, for them.

And having considered it very deeply with several ethicists as well as laypeople, I can say it is not as simple as it sounds to explain just why it is you think people are so darn special that they're the only ones you can't eat!

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I think comparing ethical vegetarianism to religious dietary restrictions is a bit off base. Making an ethical choice to not eat animals really should be compared to other ethical choices we might make for our children.... I suppose if I really felt that eating animals was on par with eating people or murder in general I might feel different. Of course if I honestly felt it was the moral equivalent of murdering people, than I don't think I would be able to maintain my relationships with non-vegetarians because I know I couldn't be friends with actual murderers.
See, I think vegetarianism is for many a very serious ethical choice and not comparable to ethical choices that require a communal effort to be effective (for example, boycotting sweatshop goods). Because there is an easy way not to kill a chicken: just don't eat a chicken. Now with how food is all mixed together, it's a bit harder, but ultimately, gram for gram, if you don't eat meat you will save animal lives.

Consider the missionary among cannibals (I know there are very, very few truly cannibalistic cultures and that many of those have stopped... bear with me). He can sit among the cannibals and befriend some of them, knowing them to be murderers and cannibals, and eat the other food, but refuse to partake of human flesh (communion notwithstanding sorry even if you take that literally... that's actually eating God-man... whatever). And just calmly explain, "I'm sorry. I believe human life is sacred and that a person should never take another person's life. I believe this because blah blah blah. Please understand I have the deepest respect for you and your family, but we disagree on this."



I've seen it done. Not about cannibalism, but about other things.

I am ALL FOR compromise with in-laws and heaven knows we've done it, but I really don't like the suggestion that vegetarianism, which has a long, honorable tradition among ethical codes and world religions, is somehow "just" a "lifestyle" "choice". I believe it is a lived virtue that is inseparable from the ethical code from which it springs.

Perhaps reading Albert Schweitzer would be interesting... he was an ethical, religious vegetarian. I mean, beyond, of course, Buddhist vegetarianism or Hindu vegetarianism, which in my opinion should be strongly respected.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#90 of 99 Old 08-05-2010, 11:59 PM
 
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Anybody who thinks of themselves as the tolerant missionary and me as the cannibal-equivalent is not welcome in my home, let alone at my table. If a person really equates animal murder with human murder, then I don't see how they could form or maintain any kind of emotional bond with meat-eaters.

But again, I've eaten with many vegetarians and vegans and never had a negative experience. I know a lot of people who think that eating animals is WRONG, but there's a whole lot of space between that position and equating a human life with the life of a chicken. Having raised both, I truly have zero respect or tolerance for a person who can't see that the life of a baby and the life of a chick are not morally equal commodities.

But seriously. This theoretical aggressive radical vegan - the one who runs shrieking from the dinner table and ruins Thanksgiving - is a red herring. The OP is certainly not mired in that kind of extremism. She knows that people are more important than poultry. So I'm not sure why we're borrowing that level of trouble here.
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