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My mother has arranged to take my two
young children to the circus and purchased the tickets
without consulting me first. She said that she views
going to the circus as a "rite of passage" for children.
The problem is that I am raising my little ones vegan.
My mother has always been supportive of my views, but
she seems adamant to do this regardless. The children,
especially the older one, is extremely upset about this
and said she refuses to go to the circus to see animals
that are kept in captivity and forced to perform. I
don't want to alienate my mother, but I also don't want
to go against my beliefs or coerce my children into
doing something they are opposed to. What should I do?
have a right and a duty to raise their children with
the values and beliefs they hold dear. Other people
involved with the children - family members, teachers,
and interim caregivers - are obliged to respect these
convictions, even if they do not personally subscribe
to them. To do otherwise is to betray an unspoken trust,
which can threaten the foundation of any relationship
and is sufficient grounds for a parent to curb future
It sounds like you have a good relationship
with your mother and that there has been an open understanding
about how you wish to raise your children. It also sounds
like you have instilled an abiding awareness of vegan
values in your children, and that their concern about
animals and compassion are securely entrenched. Now
is not the time to waver on your principles. Children
learn not only from what we tell them but by the example
we set. If you were to buckle under the pressure from
your mother, you would in essence be stating that it
is acceptable to compromise convictions whenever someone
else is uncomfortable with them. Is this the message
you want to convey?
In order for children to hold firm to
their beliefs, they need to witness a steadfast commitment
to them by their parents. When parents act hypocritically
- say one thing and do another - it confuses, frustrates,
and angers young ones and challenges their faith in
their parents' guidance.
It would be best for your mother to
bite the bullet on this one rather than sacrifice the
tenets you have carefully imparted to your children
and which they have wholeheartedly embraced. She will
recover; your children may not. There are animal-free
circuses and many other fun events that your mother
can indulge in with her grandchildren, and you can recommend
these as acceptable alternatives. Thank her for the
generosity and love that inspired her gift, but explain
in no uncertain terms that going to the circus is incompatible
with vegan values.
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