What do you do when your parents, in-laws, siblings or even your spouse doesn’t agree with your green parenting choices? I know I’m not the only one dealing with this issue. Whether it’s a grandparent who sneaks your kids to McDonald’s or a sister who insists on buying your children plastic toys from the dollar bin, it’s hard to say no.
I try to raise my children in a way that is safe, healthy and free from toxins. But I’m not going to deny them a trip to the candy store with their cousins. I just try to teach them to make good choices.
However, these choices drive some of my family members crazy. They don’t think that it’s important to avoid artificial colors or phthalates. They think I’m being paranoid and even denying my children certain pleasures. Consequently, some of my loved ones have made it their mission to completely undermine me.
How do I handle this?
First, I try to educate my family about my lifestyle. Most people just don’t understand why it is bad for children to drink fluorescent orange soda, use bubble bath full of phthalates, play with toys laced with lead or sleep in a bed full of formaldehyde.
I was raised that way and it took a lot of reading and education before I fully understood. Americans live under the delusion that our government protects consumers and that stores wouldn’t sell things that aren’t safe. And then corporations make matters worse by using misleading words like “natural” and “pure” on product labels.
Second, I avoid certain situations. If my kids are going to spend time with someone who chooses unhealthy foods, I make sure they are fed first. And I pack healthy snacks and meals. Or I insist that the visit take place at my home. In some cases, I always supervise the visit.
When my children have a birthday party, I set a “no presents” policy. My kids still receive gifts from my husband and me. When my kids do receive gifts from friends and relatives, I don’t hesitate to return anything that is inappropriate. Of course, I allow my kids to exchange the gift for something else. I rarely have to deal with my kids being upset about this because they prefer the types of toys that I want them to have. I stopped worrying about offending my relatives because I decided I need to put my kids’ health first.
Third, I am firm about how I raise my children. If I give in on my choices even a little bit, my family will run with it. They have learned that this is the way things are and don’t fight me nearly as much.
I have even been pleasantly surprised recently by some of the choices that my relatives are starting to make. They are making sincere efforts to choose toy brands that are known for safety and quality. They are beginning to stock their own kitchens with organic and natural food choices when we come to visit.
Do you have family members that don’t agree with your natural parenting lifestyle? How do you handle it?
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