Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just doing our best

Being a parent is the hardest, least thankful job ever created! As a mom, I question everything I do for, and with, my kids and I constantly check with my support group (other moms of kids similar ages) to see how they are handling the issues we all face.  We don't have kids and then plan to screw them up! We all make decisions every day that affect our kid's life and we want that to be the best decision.

As a beef producer, I get mad at people who listen to the crazy claims about beef and choose not to eat it because it has been implicated in some study to cause a frightening illness. But it isn't fair to be mad at mothers just trying to do the right thing for their families; or mad at teenagers just trying to be environmentally conscious; or even mad at businessmen trying to make a buck! I am doing the exact same thing--I am a working mom who wants to do the best I can in raising my family and protecting our future.

Those moms who are afraid to feed their kids a hamburger are actually very much like me. We both go to work--I put on leather work boots, while they may wear pumps. We both send our kids to school--mine will graduate with 15 other kids, while hers may have hundreds in their class. We both want to give our kids the best start in life and protect the Earth at the same time!

I have chosen to raise my five teenagers on a cattle ranch--not because that is my only option, but because it is a wonderful way of life. I admit, it is not for everyone. The long days in the heat making hay for the cattle to eat all winter; and the cold winter days feeding the cattle who depend on me for feed and shelter, make for a very difficult lifestyle. But it instills responsibility and a work ethic that can't be beat!

But what we all have in common is that we are doing our best.  I know that when I hear an announcement of a new study that implicates plastic bottles in an upsurge of cancer, I am tempted to never buy plastic again. Likewise, when another mom hears that choosing not to eat meat one day a week can reduce global warming, she may choose to avoid meat on Mondays. All I ask is that parents not rely on the media for their nutritional information. The internet is a curse--and a salvation. The amount of propaganda readily available on the internet is overwhelming. If you choose to only eat organic green beans, you can find a multitude of websites that will support that choice, but by researching a bit deeper and looking for studies on organic vegetables and more, you can find the complete opposite viewpoint with a similar amount of substantiation!

So what's a parent to do?  My suggestion:  use common sense.  For the most part, the people encouraging consumers to cut out specific food categories from their diet are special interest groups. They are not the mainstream. The government, through the new food pyramid, encourages eating from all food groups, in BALANCE! Continue to do your internet research, but notice the source of the data. Are the studies performed with large numbers, and are the results repeatable? Was the scientist involved really a scientist or just a self-proclaimed specialist. When your friend tells you a new rumor about a certain food causing some disaster, don't immediately believe it until you have found proof yourself.

I do feed my children lots of beef every day and we drink regular plastic-gallon milk by the 6-gallon packs! My kids are all at healthy weights, maintain a very active lifestyle, and are higher than average intelligence, as proven by their standardized test scores and continued good grades.  My kids work hard physically on the ranch weekly, play school sports throughout the school year and do hang out at the computer and tv on occasion.  They are normal, healthy, strong teenagers and I am very proud of them! I'm sure I've screwed them up in some way (each mother knows this) but I am confident that I have provided them a healthy diet throughout their growing years that should serve them as a foundation as they grow.

In short, I totally understand the guilt of a mother--we worry about every decision that we make for our kids. But don't let others make those decisions for you. Use common sense and feed your kids what will help them grow up to be strong, healthy, intelligent adults. Then, don't stress about it! Mothers have enough to worry about!

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