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Instilling Vegan Values
You have addressed a meat-eating parentís concern for a nonconforming vegan teen. But what if it was the other way around? What if the parents are vegan, raised their child vegan, and the child eventually started eating meat against the familyís wishes? This is a distressing thought to me, as it is a loss of morality in my eyes. What should a parent do if this should happen?
Values, ethics, and lifestyle choices cannot be legislated--whether by the governing body of a country or the governing body of a household and family. The decision to comply always rests with the individual. Most parents want their children to espouse and practice their ideals and belief systems, including beliefs that are related to religion or spirituality, as these often are the guiding forces behind many peopleís ethical views. At the same time, we want our children to grow up to be self-reliant adults who can make important life decisions for themselves. We canít have it both ways.
Sometimes parents get lucky and their children turn out to be exactly the way they planned or hoped. But often thatís more an accident than a consequence by design. We simply canít bend or shape another person--adult or child--into our image of perfection. The vast majority of us have enough trouble trying to reach our own goals and overcome our own shortcomings. The futility of trying to attain impossible objectives for ourselves only underscores the pointlessness of attempting to do this to someone else, even if that someone else is our child.
When children live under their parentsí roof, house rules are established and enforced. These might include a range of behaviors that are important to the parents, such as no hitting, yelling, or swearing; no smoking or consuming alcohol; and no meat or other animal products in the house. If children receive an allowance, parents are entitled to put limits on how that allowance is spent, which may mean prohibiting buying or renting violent films, games, or music, or not permitting the money to be used for the purchase of animal products, even if they are consumed outside of the house. If a teen has a job, however, the money that is not contributed to household expenses or put aside as savings is theirs and should be used for whatever the teen wishes, as long as it does not violate the rules of the house. For example, a teen may have the right purchase a hamburger with the money from her job, but her parents have a right to not permit the burger to be eaten in their home.
Once children are grown and are out on their own, there is little influence or control that parents can impose on their choices. If parents raise their children to respect and appreciate their values, there is a good chance that those values will carry on with the next generation. Still, grown children with perspectives that differ from their parents arenít necessarily examples of how parents have failed. Instead, they may very well be models of how to successfully raise self-thinking, independent individuals, and thatís something every parent can be proud of.
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