Few things are more fraught or nerve-wracking for parents than the foods we feed our kids. We all want to raise healthy children, but the question of how to do that can often have different answers for different parents.
Recently, a blog post from Nourish MD caught my eye. In it, the writer goes on and on about how she feeds her children “real food,” which I assume to mean whole grain, unprocessed foods that are locally sourced, organic and full of nutrients. She said that for her children, this difference in eating can often upset her children when they hang out among the fruit roll-up and chicken fingers “common kids.”
Sometimes it is funny how much you can agree with a person — obviously “real” food is superior — and also vehemently disagree.
It is this notion of common children versus “uncommon” children that really vexes me here. Presumably a common child might eat the normal “kid” foods — mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, french fries — while an uncommon child might eat something more “real.” That’s great and that’s the idea, of course.
What I finally realized (a light-bulb moment) is that I don’t want my kids to be ‘common’ kids. And, I don’t mean that in a condescending way. I love kids. I mean that the way we (our culture, parents, etc.) are raising our kids – on fake foods, treating symptoms instead of solving health issues, hooked into TV & computer games, commercialism, etc. – is going to produce a lot of ‘common’ kids. I want to raise ‘uncommon’ kids.
But we have to get away from this incredibly snotty notion that eating “real” foods is “uncommon.” I suppose it is all where you live, but near me, if you don’t pick up your local farm share and spend your afternoons picking up local organics at the farmer’s markets then you are the “uncommon” one.
This notion that just because one’s child eats a well-balanced diet they will somehow be engaged citizens of the world is hogwash. We should all be eating “real” foods, but being an uncommon person is about much more than the food we eat. If my child occasionally has an Oreo in an otherwise balanced diet, I think he or she will be OK.
At some point, we need to get away from the notion that our food choices are such a big deal. Yes, our kids should eat whole grains and local, organic produce and part of our job as parents is providing that to them. But when it comes to raising critical thinking children who live “uncommon” lives, I would much rather tackle the biggies — religion, lifestyle, diversity — than try to pretend like my food choices influence anything other than their future health and food choices. It’s important, but it is far from the most important part of raising an “uncommon” child.