As a 34-year-old childless, married woman, I’ve been doing a lot of baby contemplation lately. My husband, who’s 7 years younger than I am, has been surprisingly accepting of my wanderings into kid land. After all, when I was 27, the last thing I wanted to talk about was having a kid, much less the sometimes horrifying details of raising one. How will we keep the kid safe? How much TV should he/she watch? What about the disturbing number of mentally and physically unhealthy children our kid will grow up with? And how will we survive without our precious sleep? And on and on.
It’s pretty much been decided that we will try to make a baby in the next 2 or 3 years, but we have plenty of hesitations about raising a child in our current society for obvious reasons.
But this week, while hanging out with our non-Paleo cousins who have little kids, we really started delving into the “How are we going to raise our kid Paleo in a non-Paleo world?” conundrum.
This post is partly a way for me to work through that question in my mind and partly a plea for your parental wisdom. If you have kids and they eat Paleo, please let me know how it’s going for you in the comments. Show me the way!
Now, here are my 5 top concerns.
(I’ll be referring to our potential future child as a “he” below for simplicity’s sake.)
1. Will our kid resent us for imposing these very different dietary rules?
At a certain point – like when the kid starts going to school – he’ll be exposed to foods we wouldn’t feed him. At that point, he may get a taste of mac ‘n’ cheese and gummy worms and never want a vegetable again, and hate us for putting veggies and eggs in front of him for breakfast every morning. I think back to Michelle Tam’s (www.nomnompaleo.com) story about her littlest son, who had a hard time going Paleo. Her husband (www.fitbomb.com) told him, “If you’re going to live here, you need to eat the foods we eat.” So her little 4-year old said, “Fine, then I’m leaving,” and walked out the front door. He eventually got on board with their diet, but still… that’s a pretty fierce objection from such a little boy.
2. How will we deal with our kid eating at friends’ houses and school?
I think this one depends on how our kid reacts to grains, dairy, vegetable oils, etc., but I don’t imagine this will be a simple cut and dry situation. Birthday parties, school-provided snacks, school lunches, sleepovers, play dates, etc will all need to be discussed with teachers and other parents, who will undoubtedly be non-Paleo and think we’re weird. We’ll need to provide alternative foods for our kid all the time, instead of letting someone else feed him ever, and always have foods on hand for our kid to take with him.
That all sounds like a slight pain in the butt, but I’m totally fine with it. We do it for ourselves now anyway, so we’re used to always having foods ready to go. The thing I’m worried about is…
3. Will our kid get made fun of?
I mean, all kids get made fun of, but will ours be ostracized because he can’t have a cupcake? I guess he’ll just be like the kid who can’t have nuts, which is a LOT of kids now. Or the kid who can’t have gluten. Are there a lot of kids in schools now who are on special diets? Help me out here. Do we need to home school? This has actually crossed my mind…
4. How often will we let our kid eat non-Paleo foods?
I know there will be some times when our kid eats non-Paleo foods. It’s going to happen. I’m just hoping to avoid it as much as possible. I’d actually be curious to see how our kid reacts to non-Paleo foods so I know how anal we really need to be. My husband’s and my parents are thankfully all on board with Paleo, or are at least very familiar with it. I just asked my mom today if she’d have a problem with not giving our kid non-Paleo foods and she seemed offended I’d even asked her. I know some people are not so lucky, which sucks.
Anyway, I don’t think our kid will eat non-Paleo foods often at all until the eating situation is out of our control. Considering that the first time I got drunk with my friends was at age 12 (sorry, Mom) and no parent ever knew about it, there will surely be a time when our child starts making terrible decisions for himself. I’m counting on our ability to communicate with and educate our kid so that he may make informed, good decisions about what he eats on his own. (Could I possibly sound more like a person who does NOT have a kid? :)
Of course it’s easier for a child to choose to stay away from a food when he knows it’s going to make him feel awful. I don’t want our kid to have heinous reactions to gluten, etc., but I also know that it’ll be easier to teach him what not to eat if he does have symptoms (as many of us do). We’ll just have to see what hand we’re dealt.
5. What happens when the kid is old enough to be on his own and we have no more control over what he eats?
As every parent must do, I guess we’ll just have to let go and hope for the best? Dear God, please let our child be a rational human being with some sense of self preservation…
Anyone have any thoughts on this?