My daughter and I were at the grocery store the other day when she told me "Mommy, all of the kids bring (that brand) of yogurt drink to school with their lunch. Can we get it too?" You know the type... it has some famous cartoon character and about six pounds of added sugar in forms that are unpronounceable. "I know it's not organic, Mom. But can we just try it?"
The thing is, at that moment I wasn't thinking about how I didn't want her consuming non-organic dairy. I wasn't thinking about how I didn't feel comfortable with all of that processed sugar. I was thinking about how we fill our fridge and pantry with mostly healthy fare, and how our produce, our dairy and our meat is pretty much always organic but I've missed great opportunities to explain why. What good are principles without understanding? What good are values without explanation?
And so right there in the dairy aisle, my daughter and I paused to chat about cows and farmers, hormones, chemicals and antibiotics. I told her that in our family, we think cows should be able to be cows. They don't need anything artificial, they don't need to grow at a faster pace than they were meant to grow. We didn't want those antibiotics or hormones in our bodies, as a result of drinking that milk. And so on. "But Mom," she asked, "Why would the farmer want to give the cows something just to grow faster? And why would the farmer take away the cow's favorite food (grass)?" She concluded that she didn't want those things in her body and so "we should keep buying the organic farmer milk." But despite the conclusion, there was a sadness to her answer -- she really wanted to try that yogurt drink. Friends are a powerful thing. And so I bought it. I knew she understood it was a one-off and I didn't want to be rigid. It's all part of the lunch drama that families deal with. Mine is no exception.
You know what? This is tough stuff. I really had no idea what to say and so, as with all things parenting, I just did my best. I'm certain that much of it went over her head. But I'm also certain that it won't be the last time we speak of this. Today I came across this eye-opening article about the meat industry's antibiotic consumption. I welcome any tips and suggestions for talking to kids about these important issues...