11 yr old wants to be 'like everyone else' - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 02-08-2002, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
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My son just turned 11 yrs old. He wants to be 'just like everyone else'. He wants to eat the
lunches at school like chicken nuggets, hamburgers, etc. I believe the other children are pressuring him because we are vegetarian. I understand he can make his own decisions, but I hate for him to abandon his healthy life to eating junk a few times a week at school. Also, his younger siblings will want to do the same. Forget about healthy substitutes, he wants the same as everyone. I sympathise, but do I try to make him wait till he is older? I try to give him 'normal' food for school, lik PB&J. He is also complaining about being the only one without cable TV, playstation, etc.
How have people dealed with raising older vegetarian, healthy children in this culture?
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#2 of 8 Old 02-08-2002, 03:41 PM
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Wow - this will probably be me in 10-1/2 years. We're raising Dd isn our orgnaic vegetarian, sugar-free, home, with minimal television. I've put aside all the video baby gifts we received. My in-laws tell me I'm up for a losing battle, which they perpetuate by keeping the television on and talking of nothing but sugar. They tell me she'll get all that stuff at school and with her friends anyway, so why do I bother.

Experienced mother that I am not, I tell them that the longer she can go without that stuff, the better. My sister raised my nephew much the same way. He had a phase when he ate junk and got into some things she was hoping to avoid, but he decided it wasn't for him and he's now a vegetarian (gourmet cook) adult.

My sister thinks that it was her early efforts that kept him on the overall track she felt was important.

Good luck. I'm sure I'll cringe when that first twinkie goes into Dd's little organic body.
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#3 of 8 Old 02-08-2002, 06:52 PM
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As for the play station and cable that is an easy one. We never had those things growing for money reasons and still don't for money reasons and more (OK we have the PS2 but got it for free and dd doesn't get to use it. It is a grown up toy).

As for the food issues, do you think you could get to hold out a little longer? Once he gets to middle school things evenout a little and there are vegetarian meals in at least one of the lunch lines and people and thier individul choices aren't so obvious. Maybe you could just let him taste the crap they serve. If he has been raised on flavorful whole foods he willl most likely find it not worth his money or taste buds. we never could afford school lunch so it always seemed really appealing to me because everyone else got to eat it. I was the one of 4 kids out of 120 that brought thier lumch to school and the other three usually had fast food left overs, pop, or flashy processed stuff that made mine look even grosser. I lived. Are there other areas you can comprimise that would make him feel normal?

Good luck. I fear the day my children say these things to me.

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#4 of 8 Old 03-11-2002, 06:44 PM
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Although we are not vegetarians, we have healthy food standards, minimum TV, and no nintendo, etc. My kids have taught me some important lessons with regard to my standards. It is important to them to give all of the stuff, sugary food, commercial TV, Nintendo a try. I found that letting them sample these things really hasn't hurt them. We haven't made any changes in our standards, but the kids are allowed to try these things in moderation. For instance, when one of my kids was really interested in Pokemon, I know some of you are probably cringing, I let her watch one episode. She now plays her own version, based a bit on what she saw, but mostly on her own imagination, and she doesn't feel totally left out when her school friends talk about Pokemon. They occassionally play Nintendo at a friends house. There are multiple times every week when they are offered something sugary that I don't approve of. Mostly I say no. But every now and then they are allowed.

School is tough. 11 is an age when it really matters to kids what other kids think. And it is extremely painful not to fit in. And an unusual lunch does stick out. Maybe you can modify the lunch a bit as someone else suggested, and maybe allow a school lunch once every 2 weeks or so, or whatever you decide. If you are eating healthy at home, one school lunch once in a while is probably not such a bad thing.

The middle school years have been a real learning experience for me. They are the toughest years we have faced so far. (And I have one in High School).

I hope this helps.

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#5 of 8 Old 03-12-2002, 09:52 PM
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Do you remember school lunches? Blech! They have not changed! My kid's (12 and 7) just started public school a couple of months ago. They too wanted to check out the lunches. It took about a month for them to sample everything and they are now requesting a lunch from home every day. Even the pizza and nachos that are so popular with the other kids seem gross to them. Institutional food just can't hold a candle to home cookin' and that's a fact! I find what schools consider a "balanced meal" pretty hilarious, but I think it is valuable to let kids have an element of choice and control in making decisions such as this. I let my kids know what I think of mainstream this and everybody-else-does-it-that, but I also let them know that I trust them to be able to think for themselves. I do tell them that they cannot buy pop out of the pop machine in the hall, however. I hate it that schools are in such a financial pinch that they feel they must resort to selling addictive chemical crap to our children. Seems pretty hypocritical. I told the kids my reasoning and they have been understanding and cooperative (so far). Anyway, you might just try letting your son go for all that yucky food. He very well may be back before long and he can fulfill some needs of belonging and independence in the meantime. I'm glad that he is talking with you about this and not just doing something on his own without telling you. You must be a good mama!
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#6 of 8 Old 04-03-2002, 11:25 PM
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I've been thinking about this one all day because it really is a case of when is it time to let go and have him make his own choices. Every family has their rules, whether they are about religion, food, or whatever. Eventually, though, the kids have to decide what they want to keep in their own lives and what they want to discard. Generally the things they want to keep are the things that the adults around them treated as a pleasure, and the things they want to discard are the things they were forced into. Our parents managed to remove all vestiges of enjoyment from church attendance, and all four of us still shy away from church. On the other hand, food was a real pleasure, and we are all good cooks who take interest in healthy eating and wonderful flavours.

Maybe the thing is to relax a little on the school lunches, but help him to explore in the kitchen. His first efforts at cooking will probably look a lot like the school's chicken nuggets, but given time and encouragement he'll come back to wholesome food that tastes good. When I was a kid, I specialized in Jello 123 and Shirrif's Lemon Pie Mix, but now I am a pretty good cook, and my homemade lemon meringue pie is to die for.
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#7 of 8 Old 04-04-2002, 10:33 AM
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My gut says that you have given him a great base to start from. And that you can't force him not to eat what other kids will hand him. I think that if you let him step out a little elsewhere and TEST the other side of food but keep the healthy choices at home he WILL come back to a healthy diet.
I also think that the more you resist it the more attractive it becomes and it will lead to more undesirable behavior like lying and sneaking, because peer pressure rules at this age. Trust that you have shown him how to take care of his body, his desires to be like everyone else is overwhelming. Being 'WEIRD' is very hard. Talk with him honestly about why you feel the way you do and give him the decision.
My guess is he will try it for a little while, maybe longer than you would like. But if it is his decision he won't have to lie or sneak and have the guilt from that.
The foundation is there for healthy eating, I seriously doubt that this will be a life-long decision on his part!

Good luck,
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#8 of 8 Old 04-18-2002, 06:46 PM
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My ds, now in third grade, is allowed to buy lunch at school. He does most days, although he will still request a packed lunch on occasion. All meals at home (and out at restaurants) are properly balanced and include at least one green vegetable, if not more. We also eat a variety of foods so as not to get stuck in the quick-and-easy rut.

As a result of this, he feels like he belongs, and doesn't even argue the fact that we keep very little sweets in the house. I've raised him this way since he was little - my ds is more likely to want a pear when he wants a snack than anything else.

I strongly believe that, if buying school lunch gives him a sense of being able to make his own choices, then so be it. I can live with 5 junky meals a week.

It's also interesting to note that he told the cafeteria workers that they should cook the string beans like his dad does! :LOL

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