Sunday, June 10, 2012

What's Good for the Goose...

How do you raise a family macro?  It's an issue I've thought a lot about.  It's often a colossal challenge getting both parents on board, let alone grandparents, extended family, and other parents.

It's one thing when you explain to your family and friends that your child has a sensitivity or a serious allergy to peanuts/dairy/gluten/etc.  It's a whole lot harder to say, "Well, our family believes that really nobody should be eating much of that, so we don't keep cheese in the house."

Funny enough, I actually grew up next door to a macrobiotic family.  Our family was very NON-macro, and there were always Oreo and Chips Ahoy cookies in the kitchen.  We ate spaghetti with meat sauce for dinner, Lunchables for lunch... normal American stuff.  You'd think the macro neighbor kids would have had no interest in these sinful, processed American snacks.


Between the two of them, the kids could polish off a full box of Oreos in about twenty seconds.  There wouldn't even be crumbs.  Their systems were so unused to sugar that it was almost like drugs...  They had wild sugar cravings and were probably manic afterwards once the sugar binge kicked in.

I tell this story because as much as we'd like our kids to stick to the plan when they're at a friend's house, the fact is that only your child can control what he or she eats.  And if there's non-macro food to be had, they'll probably eat it.  And if they eat it, they probably won't feel very good afterwards.

So what can we say to our kids that will stick with them?

First I tried to explain that it was about sugar.  Then I realized that it was bigger than sugar.
Then I tried to explain that it was about food.  But it's bigger than food.
Macrobiotics is about the way we see our health.  Our community.  Our environment.  Our planet.  The universe, and the energy that makes us function.

If I had to explain it to my child, I guess I would say that we eat a plant and grain-based diet because meat and dairy and sweets make our body and our thoughts loud and crazy, and we want to be calm and happy.  There are some times when it's okay to be a little loud and a little crazy, but not every day.  I would tell them how the Earth has so many plants and vegetables and herbs that each have a special purpose.  Sometimes the smallest or ugliest or weirdest plants are the strongest, most important plants of all.
When we understand how important the plants are, we understand how important it is to take care of our planet.  If we get sick, we might need those herbs and vegetables, so we need a planet to grow them on!  And when we care about the planet, we learn to be considerate of others.
The hardest thing is explaining why not every family is like ours.  If meat and sugar is no good for me, why do my friends eat it every day?

I don't actually have a good answer for that.  I guess my answer is, "When you're 18 you can eat meat and dairy and sugar every day and see how it goes for you," but that doesn't exactly feel right.  I guess there are things that set every family apart.  Every family has things that matter and things that make it special.  Some people disagree with me, but I tend to have a live-and-let-live policy for other families.  As long as you respect my family and agree to disagree, we're good.  You don't politically or religiously indoctrinate my eight-year-old, and I won't feed yours burdock and take away her bacon.

I'd like to close this by saying that parenting "theory" is a lot easier than parenting "practice."  The reality of parenting is so much messier and more complicated than anything I could describe without experiencing it, so I write this with the hopes that perhaps it resonates with some of you who are going through this issue in your own lives.  This is something I've thought about in the context of my own life when debating whether or not to have kids, so I approach it not from a perspective of judging other peoples' parenting skills, but rather examining and weighing my own.

Good luck!

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