Conflicted about class trips to zoos/farms - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 04-18-2014, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know there have been various discussions about zoos, but could not find anything specifically related to this so....

 

We are vegetarian. We do not consume eggs, and we consume very little local cheese and yogurt.

My son is 6 years old and his class has an upcoming trip to a dairy farm, where they will get to 'milk a cow' (by hand, I am sure they won't get to see the milking machines), see the calves, and feed other various animals. This is not a factory farm, but I still do not support taking calves away from their mothers and stealing their milk, etc. My son knows about factory farms, and I explained that this one won't be big and scary looking, but they still eat many of the animals there, take away the calves, etc. He says, "well, I won't have to drink the milk, right?"

 

So my dilemma is that I don't feel good about him going (we also have to pay admission). I want him to know it is good to stand up for your beliefs and not do things that are not in line with your beliefs. We do live in Wisconsin and there are a lot of smaller family farms, but I also don't want him to get the picture of happy cows in his head as that is not the norm (maybe that is a silly reason). But he wants to go, because his whole class is going and he doesn't want to be left behind. There is a local animal sanctuary that we could visit together as a family that I would much rather support. On the other hand, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite because this is a small dairy operation, and probably similar to the ones that we get our cheese/yogurt from. I think part of my problem with this particular situation is that while it is a working farm, they are also charging admission for animal viewing, making it more zoo-like.

 

I think that the next trip will be to the zoo (though that one is a bit more obvious to me).

 

I would appreciate insightful thoughts on this situation. At what age do you let your child make these kind of choices for themselves? Ultimately, I want my children to be able to choose for themselves given all the available information, but am feeling that at 6 years he doesn't get that by giving people our money, we are essentially saying we support what they do. Sorry for the long ramble...


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#2 of 4 Old 04-18-2014, 01:54 PM
 
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I would factor in the size farm.  If they do a lot of these tours then they must charge as it is taking away from the business and they would have more animals if they were not doing the tours.  The cost would be a factor-is it a few bucks and reasonable? Or is it zoo admission priced?

 

Do you personally know the farms you get your stuff from?  Or can you find a local/reasonable one to show him?

 

I would try to go myself before allowing him to go just to see how they are.  I hate to say have him be the odd ball that missed trip.  I know how that felt and how out of place to hear the stories next few days.  Especially when the kid wants to go.

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#3 of 4 Old 04-18-2014, 02:08 PM
 
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You could look at it as giving them money=supporting them. Or you could look at it as spending some money to allow your son to see where his dairy products come from (I know it's not the exact farm you use but sounds like a close enough set up for them to be analogous) in order to make a more informed choice. Look at it as research for him.

He may or may not share your values regarding farming as he grows older. This could be a step on his journey towards making his own, informed decision, as you already have.

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#4 of 4 Old 04-30-2014, 02:10 AM
 
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I wouldn't forbid it if he really wants to go. Experiences like that add up over a childhood and could cause him to rebel and actually start not giving a shit about meat, eggs, milk production, etc Know what I mean? Like the kid who's strictly forbidden from watching tv who then becomes obsessed with trying to catch some tv at friends'. If he knows about factory farms and milking machines and such, just inform him that almost all milk comes from those places and is NOT hand-milked and that while his experience on the farm can be interesting and somewhat educational, it does not represent reality these days. Maybe this visit will help him connect with cows more and reinforce your food choices. In any case, talk to him about it before and afterwards. Make it a teaching opportunity. Good luck!


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