Teaching Values or Brainwashing?
Something about becoming a mother has made me a bit of an activist. Maybe it just gets me thinking more about the sort of world I want my children to inherit. Or maybe I want to set an example for them. Either way, despite my libertarian leanings, I find myself becoming more vocal about issues that matter to me, like toxins in baby products, support for breastfeeding, standing up to bullying, and human trafficking (aka, slavery).
I wonder, though, where's the line between instilling your values in your kid and brainwashing a child too young to reason for himself? When my daughter parrots in the supermarket, "That's not real food, that's garbage," am I teaching her to lead a healthy lifestyle or setting her up for an eating disorder?
There is a particular food brand I do not purchase but when my children are at play dates or an amusement park, I allow those products if nothing else is available. Do I lack the courage of my convictions? Or am I allowing my children to just be kids?
When I was a history teacher, I wanted my high school students to reach their own conclusions about important political issues--I cared more about how they thought than what they thought. And yet, I do believe that there are truths out there...I didn't want to create a class of clever, well-spoken, but rudderless kids.
The new book, Vegan is Love, from the author of We Don't Eat Animals sounds like it would be right up my vegetarian alley. Except, my husband and all three of my children eat meat.
According to the website, " That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals takes a candid, compassionate look at the plight of animals on factory farms...An endearing cast of animals is shown both in their natural state...and in the sad conditions of the factory farm." The new book, Vegan Is Love "introduces young readers to veganism as lifestyle of compassion and action. ... From the food we eat to the clothing we buy, from the use of animals in entertainment to the benefits of organic farming.."
Is it cruel to deny your (non-allergic) kids ice-cream cake? Or is it noble to set a positive example? Am I supporting the mistreatment of animals if I take the kids to the circus? Or, if I avoid the big top, am I depriving them of a normal rite of childhood?
How do you balance between raising your children with values and forcing opinions on them before they have a chance to think for themselves?