Nightmare at the grandma's - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 03-01-2014, 02:04 AM
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Ever since my husband and I decided that our 2 year old child should eat a plant-based diet, I've been dreading a visit to my in-laws. We both come from meat-eating families, but my parents live far-away and I only talk to them on Skype. They do eat meat despite our frequent discussions how unhealthy animal products are. But my mom listens to what I say, she understands it and tries to make healthier choices.
His parents, on the other side, are very insisting that meat can't be bad because generations have been consuming tons of meat and some people lived very long healthy lives. They do not agree on vegetarianism at all. They eat a lot of meat and dairy, more than one ever should. But the real problems starts with feeding our daughter a healthy diet. Some time before all they wanted to feed to her were cereal bars and crackers, later it turned into cheese and yogurts. Recently they started giving her meat, huge portions of meat, and they cheer when she eats it all. They also tend to give her 2-3 yogurts a day plus cheese, and omelette for breakfast.

So the dreaded day has come. I brought soy milk with us so they wouldn't give her cows milk. They asked what it was for and we explained that she doesn't drink dairy milks anymore. Needless to say, they were annoyed. The morning turned out to be even better. They fed her omelette, cheering that she ate it all by herself. They made really oily pancakes with eggs and milk, and prepared a couple of yogurts for her. I gently commented that we try to give her no more than two small portions of animal products a day. Although indeed, it is no more than one and not every day. But my comment started a raging storm. My MIL told me that my daughter is growing and she needs meat and dairy, that it is very good for her health because some doctors on TV said so. It wasn't too bad, nothing like a fight, but I ended up going back to my room to let the steam out or it would have turned into one. I just can't bear these silly arguments.

My question: how do you deal with meat-eating grandparents and unsupportive family in general?


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#2 Old 03-01-2014, 04:23 AM
 
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Sounds to me like they are ignorant of the facts and honestly believe that they are saving your child's health by feeding her the animal products you don't let her have...but regardless what they believe they should respect your wishes, she is your child, not theirs!

 

I think the only thing you can do really is stick to your guns :( Must be so hard though! x


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#3 Old 03-01-2014, 06:00 AM
 
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I'm not a parent and I don't have in-laws but you have my sympathy! I agree with flashgordonette though - the parents should decide. I guess I would just try to sit the grandparents down (I'm sure you already have, but maybe give it one more go?) and try to explain from the heart why you have made this decision and how much it means to you, how upset it makes you when they go against it. Also you could try to address their concerns - point them to credible sources to reassure them about your daughter's health. It sounds like you have already attempted all of this, but I guess just one more attempt couldn't hurt? I'd definitely be persistent, it sounds like the only way to get what you want. 

 

If I had clearly communicated both my logic and my emotions and addressed any concerns and the grandma continued to give my child those products…well, I'd probably snap and let her know just how angry she was making me too. But I have a temper...

 

I don't think any of the above is helpful - I'm sorry. I think the only thing you can do with unsupportive loved ones is explain and make them feel listened to in turn, but stick to your guns. Then hope for change. Good luck, you sound like you're really trying to make it work and maintain a good relationship and that's great.

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#4 Old 03-01-2014, 06:51 AM
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One of my biggest regrets is giving in to my mother, although nothing to do with diet, but on things like discipline and rules. She moved with us while the kids were still small thinking it would be a good idea for everyone. HAH! Big regrets.

As much as I'm sure they have your daughters best interests at heart, the rift they're causing is going to be worse than if they didn't get to be involved at all. It's obvious you're willing to compromise with some things, and I can understand allowing them to offer her some animal products as long as they're healthier choices if their concern is nutrition. It's clear they don't care about nutrition but only getting their way and putting you down.

I'd be clear that unless a clear compromise is made, without any arguments, they will not be allowed to visit.

This is your child, your responsibility. Just as you would fight others about imposing offensive teachings on her you need to treat them the same way. As long as she lives under your watch you need to set limits and consequences.

Grandparents should love and nurture their grandchildren, not attempt to undermine their parents rules.

There is so much evidence of the positive effects of raising vegan children. I suggest you fill a binder with as much evidence backed information as you can, and I hope her pediatrician is on board. A doctors blessing would be great.

Don't give in, you will regret it later.


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#5 Old 03-01-2014, 07:37 AM
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Thanks everyone for your sympathy and advices! That's exactly what I'm afraid of - regretting that I gave in. And I don't want to give in because I know that I am right and they are not. But I don't want to ruin our relationship, because they are the only family I have here. And unfortunately we see each other too often and all these arguments are inevitable. If it were my own family, I wouldn't worry much. We have settled loads of things in the past through the arguments.

I tried to give them some information on vegetarianism and meat and dairy consumption, but they don't want to listen. What some doctors say on tv matters much more than what I try to prove. And the most annoying thing is that they always tell us "you are the parents, you call the shots". But whatever we ask them not to do, they always find their way of doing it in the end.

And proving something to them can really be a dead end sometimes. Like today I witnessed a conversation between my husband and his father about drinking 2 litres of water a day. His father was saying that it can't be right for everyone because every body is different, some need more and some need less. Hubby said that yes, it's true, the exact amount depends on the body weight. But he argues again. This goes on and on in circles and ends just on that. He doesn't agree that he needs 2 l water. If this is so hard, how hard it can be to prove that being vegetarian is healthier? I don't know. Talking to a bull would be easier.


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#6 Old 03-01-2014, 08:26 AM
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Television is as bad as the internet-you can find anything to agree with you! There are certainly as many doctors saying veg'n diets are healthy for pregnancy as well as the rest of your life. Dr. Oz I'm sure has links to that.

Unless they're really convinced vegetarian diets are unhealthy, which is extremely easy to disprove, they have nothing to argue. 

Some grandparents are adamant about using alcohol for teething pain. Some want to push kids into sports when the kids don't want to, or have disapproving things to say about gender differences like dance for boys or wrestling for girls.  You'll have much more than diet to disagree about later, so you better make it known she is their grandchild, not child, and is theirs to love and support but not to raise.


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#7 Old 03-01-2014, 09:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lanarainbow View Post


His parents, on the other side, are very insisting that meat can't be bad because generations have been consuming tons of meat and some people lived very long healthy lives.

 

The same can be said about smoking and drinking alcohol.  These are also things we should not be giving to children.

 

It can be hard to stand up for what's right; I hope you can convince them to back down on this.  I'm sorry you're in this situation, but I believe in you :)

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#8 Old 03-01-2014, 09:59 AM
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Thank you, pandiculationco! I'll try again to talk to them. But after all the talks we've had today they managed to give her 2 servings of yogurt, omelette, a pancake and a bit of chicken. MIL also wanted her to have 2 more yogurts for the afternoon snack, but we fed her a bowl of berries instead. It's just ridiculous!

Vegetarianism is taken quite badly in our community. I knew a young lady who had a 5 year old son. She was vegan herself and decided that a vegetarian diet would be better for her son, but the judgement she has met from her husband's family and the community was unbelievable. She was called sick and stupid and many other things. Everyone thought of her as a very bad mother because she deprived her son of the vital things such as meat and fish. I didn't know much about vegetarianism back then but I respected her decision and thought everyone was unfair to her. I don't know how the story ended because they moved to another country, but it makes me extremely sad that we live in the world where cruelty and judgement are normal, but striving for a healthier life is not.


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#9 Old 03-01-2014, 10:21 AM
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Silva, when my daughter was born and we returned back from hospital, I had a feeling like it was their baby and not mine, because they would take her and hold her for hours not letting her sleep in her cot. They would bring her to me to breastfeed and wait outside the door till I'm finished to take her again. We lived in their house back then. It went on for three weeks until she got hospitalised for a week with some kind of a stomach bug. It was a very stressful time, but it gave me strength to stand up when we got back home. I never let them have her for more than 30 minutes since then. But they always try to meddle in and tell us how to raise our child. No matter how many times we tell them that she is our child, they still think it's their right to do whatever they think is better for her.


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#10 Old 03-01-2014, 10:27 AM
 
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I struggle with everything in our lives when it comes to my in-laws so I really empathize here.  While we haven't had this problem, we have more of a problem with them feeding my youngest massive amounts of processed foods.  If he has water they make comments about how "water is boring" and how we need to "spice things up."  Their idea of that is putting that MIO liquid stuff in his water...no no no.  They want to spank, and we don't.  They thought that my breastfeeding was gross, so we just hide the fact that he's two and a half and still nursing.

But anyway yea...my biggest advice is to stand your ground.  It's hard when you don't want to hurt the relationship, but it's already hurt by the current situation.

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#11 Old 03-01-2014, 11:14 AM
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It's true, mecoveg. I understand you so well, because we've had this processed food issue before. She was barely 18 months old and they fed her cookies and cereal bars and insisted on juices instead of water for the same reason that water is boring. Although when she was literally 3 days old they tried to make us give her water. I don't know how we managed to resist until she was 6 months old. Thanks to them she is still attached to a pacifier, even though we used only at bedtime. And her granny asks me every time 'is she still too young to eat chocolate? Maybe if I buy her just one bar... I've seen others let their children have it'. But, on the other hand, she judges a friend of hers for feeding chocolate to her young children, who suffer allergies from birth and all have tooth cavities.

I guess we have to be brave and stand our grounds, but it is hard to be the one against them all.


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#12 Old 05-19-2014, 05:53 PM
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Is it one against them all, or is your husband solidly in your corner? You don't have to get them to agree that vegetarian is the healthiest way to live. They don't have to agree, they just need to roll with it because you say so and because you and your husband are the ones responsible for the decision. You can show them studies, statements by the American Dietetic Association, you can watch Forks Over Knives with them. Not so much so they'll agree with you, but so they'll know where you're coming from and won't worry so much. Then you can tell them -- not ask, tell -- that they can't be feeding your children animal products without your permission. They need to know that if they cross you on this, their time with your children will be limited until they come around. This will work only if you have your husband's support on this, and if he can completely back you up. It's not up to them, it's up to you, and their ability to see their grandchildren depends on their following your wishes on this. Unless they have something they can hold over you. Do you and your husband rely on them financially, do they babysit while you're at work, or did you kill someone and they know where you buried the body? Just because a certain pattern has been established, that doesn't stop you from going for a better pattern.

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#13 Old 05-20-2014, 04:40 PM
 
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this is a tuff topic. with my own kids i have just laid down the law. this is my family and this is how i will raise them and if you don't like it then you will not see them. sounds harsh but unless you stand your ground and stand firm in what you believe then you will be run over. these relatives sound like bullies.
seriously, what kind of people try to turn their own grandkids against their parents.
i encourage you to really look at the issue inside yourself and decide what is the most important to you and your family.
they had their chance at raising their own kids and now it is yours.
be strong in your beliefs. does this mean you need to go around having arguements. NO. just be firm and confident in what feels right to you.
hope that helps.
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#14 Old 05-21-2014, 02:58 AM
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In some cultures, respect for elders means deferring to them on basically everything, even once you're an adult and even when you know they're wrong. It's like never getting to grow up until they die and you become the elder. If OP's husband and parents came up in such a culture it can be incredibly hard to stand up for yourselves. Maybe giving way on other matters can take some of the sting out of standing your ground on this one. If this is really a "you need to pick your battles" situation, you can navigate it better than any of us can advise you. But if this is just about in-laws with strong personalities imposing their preferences on you, you and your husband can only resolve it by meeting their strength with your own. It might feel weird and disrespectful to stop asking them and start telling them, but you hold the stronger hand in this one. Weirdest of all, this is the only way they will see and treat you like adults.

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#15 Old 05-21-2014, 06:28 AM
 
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I feel so sorry for your innocent daughter! You have control of your daughter you need to bring every ounce of food you want to her consume with a schedule of what and when she is going to eat. Tell them the rules and if they don't want to listen or follow tell them that will break your trust with them and you won't feel comfortable leaving them alone with your daughter. Simple as that!
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#16 Old 05-24-2014, 12:44 AM
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I would of stopped her she has no right to come in your house, and go against your wishes on how you want to raise your child MIL or not, they still have to respect you, and your views rather they agree or not. Bot your in laws sound ignorant. I really sympathize with what you are dealing with .
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