Spoiling Our Grandchildren

It's always been said that the best thing about being a grandparent is you can spoil the grandchildren and then send them home. Some even say that's the best revenge against your own children for all the hard times they gave you.

I think all grandparents do it. And one of the most common ways that we do it is through food. Culturally, we've come to equate giving food to someone as showing love for that person. And the better the food and the more of it there is, then the more love that is being shown. And so we want to please our grandchildren and show them our love for them by treating them. I've done it myself. Many Sunday mornings while going to my daughter's house so that we could all go to church together, I'd stop on the way at Krispy Kreme and pick up doughnuts for the kids (and us adults too) to enjoy when we got home from church. Or I used to make them Papa's special eggs for breakfast, consisting of heavy cream, butter and jumbo eggs.

But since going on the whole foods, plant-based diet last October, I've made it important to stick to my principles. That doesn't mean that I proselytize and try to push or force others to eat like I do. But it does mean that I have stopped feeding my grandchildren foods that I now know to be harmful to them. On a practical level, that means if I'm at their house and they are eating a bowl of macaroni and cheese, I don't tell them they shouldn't be eating that nor do I try to take it away from them. But when they come to my house, they know that that's not what I serve.

And I've found that my grandchildren respect me for that. They understand that this is how I've chosen to eat, even if they don't yet understand why (they're only 4 and 7 right now). And they enjoy telling me about new ideas for me to try. Last weekend they were at my house and they told me about how I could make vegan pancakes. They knew that I could no longer make my special eggs for them, but they found a substitute. They found vegan pancakes.

I love my grandchildren today just as much as I did back when I made my special eggs for them or bought them the doughnuts. But I've come to realize that I can show that love in other ways. The dinner table is a powerful setting for families to bond together at. But it's not what we're eating that makes our families bond together at the dinner table. It's the fact that we're all there together talking and laughing and enjoying each other's company. And what's on the menu is really incidental.