Sunday, July 5, 2009
Amanda and I recently attended a small workshop on raising a vegetarian child. Since the class was focused primarily on the nutritional needs of toddlers, Amanda thought taking the class was a little premature. I argued that it would be easier to attend a class now rather than after the baby is born, but, honestly, I am unsure why I was so excited about this class. I do not feel anxious or ill prepared to raise a healthy herbivore. I’ve been vegetarian for fifteen years. I think I was mostly excited that “raising a vegetarian child” is a topic that is as relevant to fathers as mothers. Amanda is, understandably, reading up on breastfeeding and researching local lactation groups. She is preparing to feed the infant. As the breastless parent my role in feeding is minimal until solid foods return us to equal parenting status.
I also thought this class would be a good opportunity to start meeting other parents who share our values (or, at least one). I have not identified with that many parenting books, and we are mostly friends with people who do not have children. So, I am on the search for role models, and it was helpful listening to the other parents discuss the problems they have had with their children and the solutions they have tried. I learned that a toddler usually must try a food 10-15 times before it will begin to like the taste of it, toddlers are incredibly selective of what foods they like and dislike (for example, one woman’s child will only eat beans from a local burrito shop), and everyone loves tofu fingers.
One of the issues brought up for discussion was how everyone dealt with opposition from family members who did not believe you could raise a healthy child meat-free. Everyone else had this issue – a couple of the women from the child’s father. Amanda and I realized how fortunate we are to have a family that has been supportive of our parenting decisions so far. We are definitely making many choices - co-sleeping, vegetarianism, living in a one room house, homebirth – that some people may question. I believe and hope our family realizes that all of our decisions come from much thought and research, and that they trust our judgment and respect our decisions. I also hope that they feel comfortable expressing their questions and concerns when they do have them.