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Parent versus non-parents, deuxième partie

I scribbled a post a while back that talked a bit about the differences between those of us who have propagated and those who have chosen not to. I received a bit of flack for calling non-parents “ignorant” and upon reflection, this was likely not the best word to use. But I stand by what I said in the text.

And I’m adding to it.

Unless they are mentally unbalanced or an addict of some ilk, a parent will do whatever it takes to care for the health of their child. They will lose sleep, work extra hours, sacrifice their own clothes so that the child can be adequately dressed. They will give them their last scrap of food when food is scarce.

They will take a bullet for them, jump in front of a train to save them, dive into icy waters to rescue them.

They will die for them.

And so it is for my kids. All of the above applies to me for any of the three of my kids.

Oddly, I didn’t want kids when I was in my 20’s and still more oddly, I feel that having them is a lifelong commitment. It won’t end when they are grown and on their own.

So when the well-being of one of them is threatened, I jump into rescue hero mode and do whatever it takes to pull them back from whatever poses the threat.

Some of you may be aware that we have had a bit of a health scare with my little boy over the past few months. After a “minor” (yeah, right) surgery, it seems that all is OK and his affliction can be attributed to a nasty little bacteria. But, Holy Cowabunga! The Resident-Love-Goddess and I have been on pins and needles! It isn’t until the health of your child is directly threatened that you are reminded of the strength of that bond between parent and child.

Another example.

My eldest subunit decided to turn vegetarian last summer. No problem – I totally respect that. There is evidence that points to that lifestyle being a helluva lot healthier than the one adopted by we carnivores!

As long as you eat the right things and take supplements, one can be a healthy little camper.

And therein lies the rub. No matter what her 4 parents tell her, she just-won’t-eat-properly! She’s not getting enough protein nor enough iron. We think that she is becoming anaemic as she is always sick and getting as pale as a ghost. But she just won’t listen.

The kid has been turning a maturity corner lately as she is getting excited about her post-secondary life. Her grades have picked up and even her attitude – while still FAR from ideal – seems to be improving.

But she is making herself ill by NOT eating properly and her parents are at their collective wit’s end!

And there is very little that we can do about it. She has to realise that being a vegetarian has health consequences if care is not exercised and she has to either fix her diet or go back to eating meat.

My kids’ – the toddler’s and the teen’s – health issues are very different but they are both realistically out of my control. I can take the little one to doctor appointments and the follow-up. I can suffer through 2 hours of waiting while he was in surgery. But his health was in the hands of the doctors and his own young body’s ability to heal itself.

For my teen, I can talk to her, plead with her, buy her foods and vitamins BUT the final decision is her’s.

I would do anything to fix either of their problems. Anything! If I believed in the existence of a soul, I would look up the red, horned guy in the phone book and try to do a deal!

And that, my friends, is a main difference between parents and non-parents. It isn’t the late nights or the cuddly times or thrill of hearing the first word or seeing the first step.

Those without kids will and can never feel the pain of their child and the resultant agony felt by the parent in knowing that in spite of your best efforts and in spite of doing everything “right”, that it is sometimes not enough. I can’t always “rescue” my kids – whether it be from poor eating habits or a nasty little bacteria.

And that pain is unlike any other.


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  1. Ken says:

    True – 16 would be a hard age to start laying down the law. However, she’s old enough to know what she’s doing isn’t working, so a few visits to the doctor might snap her out of it.

    Sounds like you’re taking the “tough love” route. That’s what I’d do eventually: “Fine, you won’t listen to me and pay attention to your health? You’re done – no TV, friends, movies, cellphone, etc etc until you do pay attention.”

    I’ll get back to you in about 10 years and see if I’ve put myself on the right track 😉

    (As a side note, I take a multi-vitamin every day, even though I’m an omnivore 😉 )

  2. >>First of all everyone needs to be taking a vitamin/mineral supplement
    >>because the food we are consuming these days is much much lower in
    >>nutrients than it used to be because of the way things are farmed and
    >>processed these days.

    I believe that to be 110% wrong. A balanced meal today is as good as a balanced meal 10, 20, or 50 years ago, and no supplements are required. I have seen no evidence that food today is unhealthier than it was in the past. Certainly there are more unhealthy junk choices available, but you don’t have to eat them. Eating properly is as easy today as it always was, if you choose to do it. The supplement industry would have you believe that somehow, all the nutrition has magically disappeared from food, but that’s simply not true. An apple is as good today as it was for your grandfather. So is a carrot. So is a venison roast.

    However, if you can provide evidence from reputable sources, I might be convinced that you are telling the truth. Until then, I stand by the statement that if you have to take supplements, you are not eating properly and need to improve your diet.

    And by “reputable sources” I mean government agencies in first-world countries, and peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals. Not woo-woo supplement mags, and the latest pamphlet from the local “health-food” store.

    I’m a committed carnivore, and aced my physical today.

  3. shanaco says:

    If she’d cut out even some of the daily pop, “energy” drinks, candy, ice capps etc. that would go a long way to helping her feel better.

  4. trashee says:

    Thanks all. I really think that the rubber will hit the road when her health hits her social life. And funny enough, that starts with thsi weekend. Because she is sick today and has missed school, her Mom and I have grounded her until she feels better. It’s the only thing she listens to.
    Thanx XUP – I might take you up on that – though, as i’m sure you know, 16 yr olds listen only to a small and select group of friends. And at this point in time, those friends are not exactly playing a positive role in her life.
    Yeah Ken – I hear ya – and XUP can correct me if I’m astray. But 16 yr old girls are different from 7 yr olds. Big time.
    And thanks to the Squid dude too – yah she’s a teen.

  5. XUP says:

    Please stop. First of all everyone needs to be taking a vitamin/mineral supplement because the food we are consuming these days is much much lower in nutrients than it used to be because of the way things are farmed and processed these days. It has nothing to do with being vegetarian. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 25 years and my child has been one from birth and we are both healthy. The problems arise when, as Trashee states, young people decide to become vegetarians and don’t educate themselves on proper nutrition. Of course most young people subsist on junk, but vegetarians young people sometimes try to get by on fries and cake — they don’t even have the dubious benefit of a Big Mac now and then. I’d be happy to talk to her or even have my daughter talk to her if you think it would do any good.

  6. As a general rule, if you have to take supplements to survive on your diet, you’re not living healthy. Nature didn’t make protein and vitamin pills. That’s just the simple truth.

    I don’t know how old the child in question is, but my thinking tends to align with Ken on this one.

    Most of the unhealthiest people I know are voluntary vegetarians (i.e. they don’t come from a long-standing vegetarian culture, they woke up one day and decided not to eat animals). They tend to not eat well despite touting the advantages of vegetarianism. The healthy vegetarians that I know tend to be east Indian, or follow a diet that is decidedly east Indian.

    Oh… and as my shirt says:

    “For every animal you don’t eat, I’m going to eat three.”

    (actually the shirt i am wearing right now says “I love cats but I can’t eat a whole one.” My “for every animal…” shirt is in the laundry.)

    On a more serious note, there may be other issues. Maybe there’s another issue – she wants attention and this is an excellent way to get it as evidenced by the concern you’ve voiced here. Perhaps the whole vegetarian thing is a symptom of something else. If she’s a teen, well, there’s probably not much you can do beyond support her in her decision and carry on with your life. If you really think she’s becoming malnourished, you might explain your concern and ask if she’d have a physical done just to set your mind at ease. It’s a morning off school to visit the doctor and all…

  7. Ken says:

    With all due respect, Trashy – don’t plead. Order her. You’re the parent, she’s the kid.

    That may seem harsh, but that’s the way I do things with my kids, and it works well. Granted, the oldest is only 7, so it’s perhaps easier – but they still whine and complain and throw mini-tantrums.

    In the end, they still do what I tell them to do.

    This isn’t you trying to make her clean her room. This is her health, so taking a strong, no-BS stance is perfectly warranted.

    Good luck.

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