Navigating the Mass-Market Milk World

Lisa Belkin has a post up on her Motherlode blog about dealing with rules and attitudes your kids might encounter at friends or in school that differ from the ones at home. Like, you don't have a TV in your house but your neighbor does- are your kids allowed to watch or not?

It's an interesting discussion. I deal with this with the chiloni family across the hall. They have a daughter the same age as my oldest. So my two girls and she play really nicely together. We've gotten into some healthy discussions about how she rides on Shabbat and we don't. For the most part, I've been fine with their play dates, except for some TV shows here and there that I don't care for. A, my oldest, came home from gan last year singing some movie songs that I don't care for either. Also, I let them watch the preschool channel Hop on TV but Arutz Hayeladim (the Children's Channel that's not very kid friendly) is banned here. But I can't forbid them from watching it at other people's houses.

Generally, I try to stay flexible, unless it's something that really offends my sensibilities, like Bratz dolls.

This mother has other problems:

I am experiencing this right now. I LOVE my neighbor who watches my daughter twice a week, but I do notice that she comes home singing little jingles that I’d rather her not know. Yesterday it was “shake your booty…” ha! We don’t own a tv and we eat very healthily, but like other commentors, I’ve wanted my daughter to be aware that other families do things differently and to find love and joy with others even though they are different. We’ve compromised with the nieghbor on lots of little things …no sugary juice for my daughter when the other kids have their juice but rather organic raw milk (provided by me) instead. Now it’s a non-issue. But with the corny pop culture jingles? I don’t know how to handle this one. Should I risk coming off as a total judgemental b**** and asking her not to show movies to my child (she’s already agreed to no TV when my daughter is over) or should I get over it and just “shake my booty!”? :)

Here was my response:

Anonymous #32:

I vote for getting over it, having some sugary juice and letting go a bit. Your daughter has got to learn how to navigate the pasteurized mass-market milk world sometime. Now would be good.

I found the attitudes about TV and food in the comments to be remarkably similar to haredi attitudes towards those topics (TV is bad, can't trust the standards of the next-door neighbor).

How do you deal with different rules and alternative attitudes toward the values and ideals that are important to you?


tesyaa said...

As you point out, it's not a religion issue solely ... it's a matter of control. Some parents want to control what goes into their kids' bodies and brains. It makes sense for a tiny little infant, but sooner or later the kids need the opportunity to fend for themselves, and express their own likes and dislikes.

Also, everyone knows juice contains sugar, but calling it "sugary juice" just sounds so judgmental.

Leora said...

Control sounds like a good way to put it. I can be very strict about what I put into my own body, but I have a hard time keeping my kids in a box. They know what candy is, and it is all over the place. So I can forbid and then they'll sneak the candy, which is what I did as a kid. Instead, I try to educate them about healthy eating. And I make it clear that is up to them to choose to be healthy. Mostly (and then they can always pray, too).

I could write a book answering your question. Instead, I'll wish you a chag sameach.

Commenter Abbi said...

Tesyaa- I agree completely that it's about control. And for some parents, the idea of giving up this control over what goes into their children's mouths and brains is terrifying. My parents always had sugary cereals in the house. I asked my Dad why they did that, when they knew it was "bad for us". He said they just wanted us to eat breakfast, and sugary cereal was the easiest way. They didn't really worry about obesity, etc, then. (and we were thin children, it wasn't a concern then).

Leora, I also agree that kids have to learn to make their own decisions- even from the smallest ages, when it makes sense. And sometimes, they will make the wrong decisions. But how else can they learn how to navigate the world?

Baila said...

I do what I can in my house and let it go in the others, unless there is a really serious issue (such as an unstable family going through a very difficult divorce with alot of upheaval in the house; years ago my eldest became friendly with the daughter and I "encourage" my 7 year old to have all playdates at our house).

Everyone's standards are different and we all think we are the ones doing it best for our kids. If we make our kids crazy with so many restrictions, they'll find a way to get what they need behind our backs.

Lion of Zion said...

my son used to get almost no junk food/soda/etc. from us (breaking down now) and very little t.v. (none now for technical reasons).
his old babysitter, who loves to spoil him, lives across the hall. whenever he visits he gets his junk food fix and tv time. at first it bothered me that she didn't listen to our wishes (and that he was playing us and her), but on the other hand i knew it made him happy. little kids deserve their happiness and i didn't feel "guilty" about backing down because i wasn't the one indulging him. i once commented to my wife that it's good for parents to have a neighbor/relative/etc. who gives the kids what you know makes them happy but you don't want them to think you approve of it. (of course this all has to be withing reason.)

Commenter Abbi said...

LOZ: I think it's easiest to shield the first from all the kiddie vices- especially candy/soda/junk food. It gets harder with each successive kid, because they bring it home from school and friends.

I enjoy "spoiling" my kids, also within reason. Candy isn't a regular snack in the house, but I'm not against stopping at the candy store when we're out and getting a few treats. The one "treat" I buy on a regular basis for the house is bittersweet chocolate, which I consider ok because it has some health benefits, and isn't as junky as milk chocolate.

Remember on Family Ties how they were always taking out the ice cream container and having a bowl in the kitchen while they were talking? Can you imagine that flying in today's obesity obsessed America?

Baila- I'm with you on the flexibility until it's serious. Sounds like it was a good move to keep play dates with that friend at your house.

Common Sense said...

Great food for thought. This is a serious issue but I think ultimately too much control is a bad thing. It's important to pick your battles. So I have to agree that unless there are some seriously subversive morals being passed on, a little candy and TV won't rot their teeth or minds too badly.

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