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Vegetarian Child...

(8 Posts)
Woozlemum Fri 02-Sep-11 11:45:51

Quick rundown of a little background - I am a stepmum to a 3 year old DSS, have been with his Dad since he was 2 and my DP and his ex were both vegetarians when they were together - DP from when he was about 7 and just decided he didn't like meat because he didn't like eggs and they came from chickens and therefore wanted to be a vegetarian... (7 year old reasoning for you!) but he stuck with it until we got together - said he had often thought about eating meat again and was bored with veggie food (he doesn't like most things that get offered as veggie food). His ex is more of a moral vegetarian, out of thoughts of animal cruelty etc - fair enough. When DSS was born they decided to raise him as vegetarian - but that if when he got older he wanted to eat meat - that was up to him. OK, fair enough.

DSS understands that he is a vegetarian, I know that as have done the usual silly jokey game things were you say things like 'Do you want.... worms on toast?' etc and he says 'I dont eat worms - I'm a vegetarian.' We do try to eat veggie when we have him, but there are times when we have a ham sarnie or some such thing. We never give him meat - ever, and wouldn't ever offer it to him. But he has asked questions about meat, if he has seen us eating something different he will ask what it is, like if we are at a BBQ/at other people's houses etc. We always answer him, explain what it is, but that it is meat and he is not allowed to try it (he often likes to try new things and will ask us if he can try something we have - which is pretty good for a 3 year old). We say to him that when he is older if he wants to try meat that is his choice but that until he is a big boy he is a vegetarian.

DP and his ex have a monthly chat to discuss things which usually go ok but not sure if DSS had mentioned about maybe one day trying meat when he was older (which has never been something she has been against as this was discussed when he was born) but she asked DP if we could not talk to DSS about this anymore. DP said he couldn't do that, as if DSS asks a question we are not going to ignore him or fob him off.

I often feel like a bit of a food nazi when it comes to DSS, always having to say what he is or isn't allowed. If we go to other people's houses they are afraid to let him have what they're kids are having in case they give him something his mum wont like, including sweets (as often they will have gelatine in). We usually bring our own food for him when we go anywhere to make sure we know what he is having. The ex used to ask each time DSS was brought back home what he had eaten so she could make sure he wasn't being given anything 'bad' - she recently said she didn't need to know anymore, but then after this recent chat has started asking again.

I feel bad at times because I feel like he's the odd one out at parties or family gatherings, that we have to pick the food for him, when everyone else around him is eating what they want - including his 2 year old cousin. It's not out of food allergy or religious reasons so I just find it a bit hard sometimes. His 2 year old cousin's mother is a vegetarian but she has no problem with her DS having meat, knowing that is a choice that you make.

Anyway - mega long rant, but just wondering about any Mum's opinions (veggies or not!)

plinkplonk Fri 02-Sep-11 12:46:29

One thing you lose control of when you have a split family is how your children are treated when they are not with you - sounds like the ex hasn't quite got that! It's very silly for her to tell your dp how to talk to his own child - it is impossible not to answer questions.

Personally I would not police my dss's food intake. Leave it to his dad and the ex to do this. But out of respect, always have a veggie option for proper meals and snacks - I wouldn't do a big number about eating meat in front of him myself. If you go to a party, help him choose veggie options. But if he eats the odd sausage, who cares. Just say something vague like 'some sausages are meat, and some sausages are veggie ones - you prefer the veggie ones, don't you' and then pretend not to notice that he has wolfed a meat one! He probably won't even realise - and that means his mum doesn't have to know, which is sometimes easier than trying to resolve things.

My dd insists she is a vegetarian, btw, but likes sausage rolls. She thinks she is eating veggie ones (we usually do both varieties) and I don't feel the need to point out she is eating sausage. Kids just figure this sort of stuff out for themselves.

overthemill Fri 02-Sep-11 12:59:08

as you are the stepmum i think you have to accept that you cannot parent this child exactly as you would if he were 'yours'. I say this as a SM of some 14 years. You have to go along with how the two of them wanted it with regard to some things (like veggie, non veggie, pierced ears, no pierced ears). It's different for other things, eg bedtimes, games, tv rules as they are safe to be different at different houses (like grannies do stuff different and so do mates). Kids understand this, But it's like suggesting (from her point of view) that her child should be jewish at her house (kosher) and christian (non kosher) at yours, as she has this as a moral standpoint as did your dp but he's changed his mind.

So you need to teach & model respect for other people's points of view which I don't think (as ex veggie and mum to a transient veggie!) is too hard. Loads of people are veggie these days and there are alternatives easily available. I always call ahead and say 'x is veggie, but dont do anything special, she can just eat all the other things' OR ''x is veggie, shall I bring some veggie burgers for the bbq?'

I know these things are tricky - believe me we still have problems sometimes - but it will have to settle down and at the end of the day his mum and dad are really trying hard to put him first (monthly chats? amazing) and that is what is most important. He will decide for himself when he is older but in the meantime maybe you could try some delicious non meat meals when he's around? He'd love to help cook I bet!
Good luck, I know it isn't easy

Woozlemum Fri 02-Sep-11 13:03:11

Thanks Plinkplonk. They used to say when they were together that if DSS ate something at a party etc that he wasn't supposed to they wouldn't make a big deal about it. But a while ago we were at a family BBQ and he was given a haribo sweet - he was so excited about it (he doesn't have sweets very often) that he wanted to show mummy. We were hoping he would forget about it and eat it before he got home, but he kept hold of it all the way home and showed her and she got very frosty with DP about it.

We usually make sure there are veggie options for him if we go somewhere, but it's hard when the other kids offer him things and I worry about him going home and telling his mum he's had something she doesn't allow.

We usually have him twice a week - one day a weekend where he will have lunch with us and one afternoon in the week where he has lunch and dinner with us. 9 times out of 10 we have a homemade meal, occasionally we might do something quick and easy like a frozen veggie meal like veggie nuggets or some quorn related thing. Once made the mistake of doing him some smiley faces with his meal (which again he was super excited to tell Mummy about when he got home) and DP got grief for it because it was ultimately giving him 'chips' - and while Mummy gives him chips every now and then if they are out, she says it's not an every day thing. Considering he only eats dinner at ours once a week and we've only ever given him smiley faces once, I hardly think that's an every day thing!

We were beginning to feel a bit more relaxed about the food reporting when she said she didn't need to know anymore, but now she is asking again it just feels so frustrating. If we say he has had cottage pie or spag bol she always freaks out asking if it was a meat one - of course not!

Even as a non-veggie I like eating quorn, so it's not an issue for us to have the same thing he has, but when he is having dinner at 5pm we dont always eat with him, but we try to whenever we can.

Woozlemum Fri 02-Sep-11 13:23:41

Thanks Overthemill - he does help us with cooking. We get him to help with preparing food and he's mastering buttering bread lol.

We always try to give him good meals, I do lots of homemade soups which we will have for lunches, and always make sure he has healthy snacks. The other day I did him some carrot for a snack and usually he eats a few carrot sticks and then leaves them, so this time I cut them into rounds and got my cookie cutters out and cut out hearts and stars from the middles and gave him both the cut outs and the rounds with the holes in - he loved it and ate them all up. Then the next time we had him DP went to do a snack for him and he said 'Daddy - are they going to be special snacks like Woozlemum made?' DP was all a bit 'mmm might not be as special as those' as he couldn't remember what I had done last time.

I think sometimes I feel a bit like he's not having as much fun with food as he could be, we do baking with him and make things like biscuits and cupcakes, but there are times I feel a bit sad about it. Like we still have some of his easter eggs (because he got sooooo many from the extended family) because he hardly ever eats chocolate, which in one respect is great as he's certainly not eating fatty foods etc but at the same time a little sad that he hardly ever gets to eat stuff like that. We have resorted to mixing bits of chocolate with his yoghurt and fruit for pudding to try and use it up (he loves it and gets super excited to see he has chocolate - probably about 3 grams worth but still chocolate all the same...)

No problem with feeding him veggie food and eating healthy things, but I think it's more the case that his mum somehow thinks we are stuffing sausages down his throat at every opportunity, maybe more down to the fact she is hoping that one day DP will make a mistake which she can go mental at him about. He is very good and will often pretty much do whatever she wants, we have always respected her wishes, but there are times like her asking us to not talk to him about food anymore which is a bit too much.

Yep - monthly chats - all very good. Usually organising things like babysitting/pre-school holiday dates, any new foods he likes, stuff he is doing, things they need to be doing. Pretty much always go ok, the odd time she kicks off about things - mainly as she doesn't listen to him when he is saying things and jumps on a tiny part of it and tears it apart! But that's another story!

DP is a super Dad, who grew up with a split family and so understands what it is like to be pulled from pillar to post and cope with the differences in households and we try to keep things as consistent as possible for him - especially at this young age.

overthemill Fri 02-Sep-11 15:35:19

well the only other advice i can give is to try to let it all wash over you - you know you are doing your best and it sounds like he is a lucky litle boy with parents of all kinds who love him

plinkplonk Fri 02-Sep-11 20:18:39

Would second overthemill. All this stuff gets easier as the dsc gets older, too.

Fine for him not to eat chocolate though - just give him a bit and then eat the rest yourself - he won't notice until he is older!

Woozlemum Sat 03-Sep-11 00:08:12

We have eaten some of it lol - tiny bit for you - rather large bit for me....

Made me laugh the other day - he bonked his head while playing sock monsters (as you do) and was in DPs arms just looking forlorn and mournfully going 'owwww' So after me running down a list of things that might make it better (another kiss from Daddy, one from me, one from his grampy, one from his teddy etc etc) he goes 'mmm chocolate might help...' So I said I would have a look and see what we had and came back with a tiny piece (with a larger bit behind my back) 'oh that's too small to help' lol. So I gave him the big bit which disappeared rather quickly but still didn't help. However a strawberries and cream lolly did the trick. (Although he had to wait until after he'd had dinner back at mummy's - my orders lol)

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