Q. I find that [my kids] become the “food police” at social events and that our dinner invites have diminished. Any thoughts?
A guy I used to know once told me that when he was a teenager, he took all the leather shoes, jackets and purses out of his parent’s house and buried them in the back yard. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I imagined the look on his folk’s face when they realized where their belongings were. Situations like this bring to mind an old proverb: Children and drunks always speak the truth.
For children who have not experienced the practice of meat-eating as a normal part of their daily existence, here is an example of what it is like for them: a neighbor drops by and offers you a bite of his roast collie sandwich. Does it even cross your mind to offer a polite response? Imagine how difficult this must be for children! If you have not been accustomed to eating animals, the concept is pretty shocking.
There are several dietary situations where you would unquestionably use manners. For instance, if you visit a friend who is lactose intolerant, it would be rude to arrive with ice cream. If a relative is on a weight-loss diet, you do not show up with a bag of candy, etc. Although we may not always understand or agree with different people’s diets, values or lifestyles, we do need to teach our children to be polite toward others when we are in their homes and out in public.
When it comes to children’s behavior in their own home, they should be able to say what they think about food. (Of course as in any situation, you teach them to express their opinions in a non-attacking manner.) After all, food is one of the few areas of their lives where children get to have any say about their preferences. If they cannot speak their minds at home, where can they?
Instead of toning down your children before company arrives, I would instead, inform your guests about the dietary habits at your home and expect them to honor your lifestyle. Hopefully your guests won’t have to dig up their belongings when it’s time for them to leave.
© Jill Powers and The Feel Good Vegan 2010.
Photograph courtesy of Microsoft