Here is how to Answer the Questions...Allllll the Many Awkward Questions!
I think it’s universally recognised that children ask questions. A lot of them. ‘Why?’ features HEAVILY in most family homes (and cars, and trips to the supermarket and basically anywhere a child might be awake). So I have mastered a tailor made technique that I want to share with other Plant Based Parents!
To be honest, I find some of the Why’s a little awkward. For instance, a few weeks back we were in a very crowded, very popular children’s shop in town. It’s that colourful shop that sells scented stationary, pencil cases with 40 hidden compartments and backpacks that look like they were made by magical fairies with glitter wands. As always, my girl was in a trance looking at all the sparkly wares, and with a voucher burning a hole in her pocket she meant business. And so it began.
Mummy can I get these scented lip balms shaped like ponies?
No darling, pick some stationary?
Why can’t I?
I don’t think we should buy lip balm here.
Because we don’t know what it’s made of, or how it’s made.
Why do we need to know that?
So we can make sure it’s safe.
Because I don’t want to buy something with animal ingredients in.
By this point quite a few small ish girls are watching this exchange blatantly while their mothers listen but pretend not to.
Why do we have to do that when other people don’t? Look – that girl is buying it!
Now my girl ‘gets’ why we do what we do but still, she clearly felt little aggrieved that she was missing out on pony shaped cosmetics. So what to do? I wasn’t going to buy it… but how do you say no without implying to your child - and all who can hear - that anyone who buys this is an uncaring person?
This line of questioning seems to get me more often than I’d like. And I get embarrassed, and a little flustered, even though I have all my lines rehearsed (I don’t care what anyone else is doing, I am only interested in what we do/buy/eat… everyone can make their own mind up and this is my choice). My go-to golden response is this:
Crouch down to her height - This helps both of us. I feel a little less exposed to others who may be (most definitely are) listening, and making eye contact with her helps keep her attention. I say very quietly something along the lines of ‘that may/has been made using things from an animal and I am not cool with that. The animals could have been hurt, and we care about keeping animals safe and happy, so this one isn’t for us. Let’s google one that is safe for us and where we can find it’ This way I am being honest, explaining without making her feel like shes doing wrong and giving her a solution that doesn't mean she is missing out!
Now she’s older that works. When she was a little younger (read feistier) it was often met with misery. Especially if cake or ice cream were involved. I learned real fast where to get safe sugary treats or to keep a steady supply of Mini Moo chocolate bars in my bag. Bad mood avoidance became an actual skill I was proud of. But, like most awesome vegan kiddos, she has been educated about what’s kind and right to all creatures, and her empathy levels over rule her desire for sparkly things or cakes. Just like all vegans I suppose!
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