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Would it be wrong to sneak my vegetarian grandchildren some meat?

GRANDPARENTS,GRANDCHILD,KITCHEN
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A grandmother who questions her daughter's dietary decisions asks Katrina if she should take matters into her own hands.

Dear Katrina,

My son-in-law is a vegetarian and makes my young grandchildren eat a vegetarian diet. My concern is that my grandbabies aren’t getting enough nutrients in their diet. I don’t what to start a fight with my daughter and her husband but I don’t think this is healthy. Do you think it’s okay for my son-in-law to impose such harsh dietary restrictions on his family? Whenever I watch the grandkids I want to give them some meat and protein because they look so skinny!

Thanks!

Anonymous

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Dear Anonymous,

You run the risk of ruining your relationship with your daughter by not respecting her boundaries as a parent. Do you really think your daughter would intentionally put the health of her children at risk? The only thing you should ask your daughter about her children’s diets is what types of foods and snacks they like so you can have them in stock when they come over. That’s it. Sneaking food to your grandchildren against their parents’ wishes is the quickest way to lose everybody’s trust and possibly cause your daughter to sever contact with you. How would you have responded, as a young mother, to such outside meddling? Probably not very kindly.

You have to trust your daughter and son-in-law to parent their children in the way they feel is best for their family. No one doubts you love your grandchildren; it’s obvious by your concern for them. Maybe having kids on a vegetarian diet isn’t the way you would raise children, but your daughter isn’t you. She isn’t rejecting the way you mothered her by doing something so dramatically different from the way you did things. There’s no reason to internalize her actions or make a big battle out of this. I would let this go immediately.

It might help you instead to learn a little about what is means to have a vegetarian diet. There are all kinds a reasons for having a vegetarian diet (religious, cultural, and moral) as there are different types of vegetarian diets. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat no meat, poultry, or fish, but do eat eggs and dairy products; lacto-vegetarians eat no meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, but do eat dairy products; ovo-vegetarians eat no meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but do eat eggs; and vegans eat only plant-derived foods.  

Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist; I think you’ll find most health professionals agree that a well-planned vegetarian diet can be quite healthy for children. With vitamins, fortified foods, and access to a larger variety of types of foods a vegetarian diet can not only be extremely healthy but also very delicious. There are tons of resources online and at your local library. Why not take a vegetarian cooking class or learn to prepare your daughter and her family’s favorite dishes? A little effort can go a long way in showing your daughter that you support and trust her as mother.  

Have a problem that relates to your Catholic life? Let Katrina help FIFY! Write to her at AskKatrina@aleteia.org 

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