What kind of parent are you?

Well friends, it’s happened again.

With Thanksgiving all up in my grill last week (I get sort of gangster when I get riled up) I’ve found yet another aspect of modern day child rearing and living that’s just not acceptable to me.

I can’t tell you how many posts, blogs and comments I’ve seen over the last four days from a «worried» mother about how to get her two, three, 12-year-old child to eat meat (particularly turkey). From chopping it up super tiny, mincing it and bribing the child with toys, candies and ice cream, I could not be more disheartened by the lengths people will go to in an attempt to trick their child into eating meat.

I get it people, you’re worried. You’re worried that because your four year old doesn’t eat something that can bleed, he or she won’t get enough protein, will be malnourished and then die. You’re worried because here in America, the only (seemingly) acceptable way to get protein is either from a dead animal or from a liquid supplement. 

Let’s talk about that five year old who pushes their plate away at the sight of chicken. Or your 8-year-old who is figuring out where exactly their food comes from and has no desire to ingest something with a face. Heck, let’s just say that for whatever reason your child has jumped ship and refuses to eat meat. What are you to do?

Well, how about a little research?

There is nothing that discourages me more than indolent parenting. Reality check, when your child is concerned, ignorance is not always bliss.

Now don’t misunderstand me here folks. I’m not here to argue about the safety or healthiness of raising a child on a meat and dairy diet; we’ve been doing it for thousands of years and I get the point, it works. So let’s just throw that argument out the window because I’ve fully accepted and admitted several times that there’s a responsible way to incorporate those things into a healthy diet (I just can’t work it into the moral aspects of my life).

What I am here to raise a big ole fuss about, is completely active, get-your-hands-dirty parenting. Months ago I had a friend whose son showed little interest in eating meat. After asking her pediatrician what to do about this, the lackluster response was something along the lines of «Oh, give him PediaSure on the days he refuses to eat meat.» 

PediaSure, the liquid supplement? That’s a pediatricians best answer? Perhaps I’ve missed the PediaSure bandwagon or maybe doctors have stock in it.

If you’re a parent and that response is good enough for you, maybe you should revisit the food pyramid. 

This is what I know.

My family doesn’t eat meat. Ever. We don’t use liquid supplements to achieve our daily intake of vitamins, minerals and proteins. We try to balance our diet with nutrients from vegetables, fruits, grains and every now and then we get wild and throw a legume in there. (What is a legume??) 

My daughter doesn’t drink PediaSure. Ever. She doesn’t drink whole milk or even two percent. Sometimes she has soy milk, sometimes coconut milk, every now and then we throw in some almond, flaxseed, oat or hemp milk. And at 18 months old she is thriving. Boy, is she thriving. 

How, you may ask? Since apparently the answer to growing a healthy child is be either tricking them into eating meat (through mashed potatoes laced with minced chicken) or by giving them PediaSure.

The answer is simple. It’s the right combination of plant-based proteins, a family doctor who supports our vision of a vegan family, a clinical nutritionist who broke through the animal-biased protein barriers and a mother and father determined to raise a healthy girl the compassionate way.

I’m not asking you to go vegan. I’m not even asking you to eliminate all meat from your child’s diet. I’m asking you to stop trying to trick your kids, stop funding the PediaSure campaign and start educating yourselves. 

This isn’t 50 years ago when being a vegetarian or vegan was a seriously scary, undeveloped and totally experimental thing. This is 2011.This is the day and age when soy, almond and coconut milks can coexist on the very same shelves as the «real» dairy stuff. This is the land where vegan cheeses appear in large grocery chains like Kroger and where restaurants offer vegan alternatives. This is the future, the time when vegetarians and vegans are no longer a myth, but walk among you, populate your work office, get coffee at your Starbucks and (gasp!) live on your street. 

There are more than a handful of options when it comes to picky non-meat-eating children, from the tried and true peanut butter and jelly, to more exotic foods like lentils, tofu and tempeh, to protein-rich vegetables like beans, peas and spinach and to grains like barley, quinoa and oats. 

Maybe you don’t know what some of this is, maybe you’re afraid to try new things. 

But let me ask you this. If you’re not willing to open your own mind up to new foods, tastes and nutrients, then why on Earth should your own child?

Even a hamburger is (at some point or another) a «new» food to every child.

This blog post is sponsored by condoms, vegan ones, lots of them.

OK, not really.

But I figured it’d get your attention.

And I really do wish this particular blog post was sponsored by vegan condoms because I know a handful of young women (and probably even more I don’t know) who could use them.

This isn’t going to be one of your» keep your vagina disease-free by making him wrap it up» disclaimers, instead, this is going to be a plea.

From me.

And I’m sending it out to all you teeny boppers, barely over the legal drinking age, wannabe, getting-yourself-knocked-up mommas.

Please, start using condoms (vegan ones if possible), but in reality, any will do.

Just please, please, please stop having kids on purpose.

And let me just clarify something here. In no way or shape am I trying to insinuate that you won’t all be perfectly wonderful mothers, that those of you who are teenage mothers aren’t phenomenal or that being a certain age will make you ready for motherhood. (Nothing, I repeat, nothing, will prepare you for that constant, uphill marathon).

I genuinely believe that there are women out there who made mistakes (I am not saying your child was a mistake so chill out) and maybe had children a little earlier than they wanted. In the same hand, I know there might be a few (a very, very small few) who at 21 or 22 have settled down, have a stable environment to raise a child in and are at least ready on the outside for the challenge.

Wait until you’re ready to rock the
unkempt, who knows where your make-up
went,  haven’t showered in three days, don’t
give a damn if everyone in the world just saw
 your vagina and have fluid leaking out of
 every orifice of your body look.

Unfortunately though, a lot of us aren’t. (Notice how I said us. I’m a 26-year-old mother, with lots of 26-year-old mother friends, and at some point or another, we’ve all questioned whether or not we were truly ready to tackle parenthood).

The girls I’m addressing, are the ones I have sprinkled throughout my life. The ones who are, in fact, barely women yet, and decide getting pregnant would be a great idea for whatever reason.

Maybe it’s because you think that super awesome boyfriend of yours will stick around if he finds out you’re pregnant with a mini (pooping, screaming, messy, expensive) human. Because yeah, I think that’s every 20-year-old guy’s dream, something that’s going to take away from beer and video games, or at the very least, your sex life.

Or perhaps you just don’t have enough love in your life. If this is the case, let me know, I’ll do all parties involved a big favor and come love you myself. That way, you can get all the love you want without having to raise a small child while you’re still one emotionally.

Who knows, maybe you just think you’re totally ready for one. You’re 20 (which means you’re basically a sage), you have a job, a kind-of boyfriend, a place to live and parents with a lot of money. Having kids can’t cost that much, right? Your job will support you (and if it doesn’t your parents can, right)? And your kind-of boyfriend, well, he’ll stick by your side?

No. No. No.

You’re 20 (or 18, 19, whatever). You should be growing up with your girlfriends, staying out too late and figuring out your life. You’re not ready to create another human being because you’re not even done being created. The person you are now is only a shadow of the one you’re going to become. Do me a favor. Look back at your life three years ago, it’s probably a lot different than it is now, right? Now imagine your life in three years. It’s probably going to be even more different, right?

At the very least, do me a favor.

Wait until you have your own place (not one that you share with your 14 best friends).

Wait until you have someone in your life who has not only seen you at your worst (and no, that night you spent hugging the toilet does not count) but has stuck by the morning after. If you can be patient, wait until you’re married and can share this experience as a husband and wife.

Wait until you’re not a dumb kid anymore. Chances are, right this very moment, you think you know it all. You think you’re big, bad and totally prepared for whatever comes your way. Wait to have a kid until you know you don’t know it all. Until you know when to ask for help.

Wait until you have a stable environment (and I’m not just referring to the roof over your head). Wait until the drama that ensues your life is which big girl job to take, what kind of dressing to put on your salad and which shows to DVR because it can only do two at a time, rather than what boy you want to sleep with tonight, which «hoe» is getting all up on your man and which «totally cute» top to buy to go clubbing.

Do me a favor and wait until you know what I meant by «sage,» hint: I’m not talking about the spice.

Wait until you don’t have friends who still ask you to buy beer or at the very least, wait until you’re old enough to buy it yourself, drink copious amounts of it or none at all. Just wait until you have the choice to legally drink or not (the key word there being legally).

I promise you it’ll be better. I promise that in a few years you’re going to feel a lot different about yourself. In a few years you’re going to have that someone who makes raising a kid seem not so scary.

And note to you, if having a kid doesn’t scare the bejeezus out of you, hold off on getting pregnant until it does. You are so totally not ready to become a parent if there’s not this massive part of you doubting your ability to be said parent, provide for said child and frankly, push a seven, eight or nine pound baby out of your very tiny vagina.

But most importantly, use condoms (vegan ones), lots of them.

Disclaimer: I do not know it all. I am not the queen of motherhood. But one thing is for sure. I know how it feels to want a guy to stay, to be lonely and to think I know it all. I know what being 20 feels like and I know you might feel like you’re on top of the world. But I also know how it feels to be a first-time mom at 26, one with a husband who started a college fund for our child and one that is finally starting to grasp exactly who I am as a person. It may not qualify me to make life decisions for you on your blog, but it does for mine. 

Also, young, single mothers who are doing an amazing job raising kids, way to go! This is not a post meant to attack or belittle you, I think the world of you for being able to raise a child without wanting to pull your hair out. This is just my message to young girls who are purposely trying to get pregnant before they give themselves a chance to grow up and really appreciate their time as a young, single woman.