One of the nice things about living in Seattle was the ease of obtaining raw milk. In Michigan it is illegal to buy raw milk. People get around this by doing something called a cow share, or a herd share, by which they purchase part ownership of a cow or cows. Since it is not illegal to drink raw milk from a cow you own, you can then drink your own cow’s milk without a problem.

For people who are convinced that raw milk is a healthier alternative to pasteurized milk, this is a great way to deal with certain states’ laws that don’t allow for responsible consumer choice in this area.

I don’t want to digress too far from the topic I intended to discuss, but I will say briefly that many (if not most) of the people I’ve met who have objections to raw milk are coming from a place of ignorance (ignorance meaning they don’t know about something). There are so many misconceptions out there about safety or lack thereof, and cleanliness or lack thereof, so I would just urge you that if you find yourself having a knee-jerk reaction to something like raw milk please at least look into it. Give it a fair chance before you make a decision one way or another; the facts may surprise you. You can make a change or not, but don’t let rumors or propaganda dictate your thinking, especially on an issue that could impact the health of you or your family.

And that is actually a pretty good segue into the issue that is bothering me right now. One of my older kids made a comment recently about how they really didn’t enjoy the consistency of raw milk (It comes with the cream on top, and you shake the bottle to distribute the cream throughout the milk when you use it. Even if you take off the cream, though, it has more of a creamy texture than store-bought milk. I actually think this is way better, but I guess it’s an individual thing…). Last night I was looking into where you can get cow shares in Michigan and another of my older kids asked if we could get store-bought milk for him because he really “hates” raw milk. When the kids were younger it was pretty much I shopped, I cooked, I served, and they ate. What was in the house was in the house, and with the exception of very egregious things (super icky foods, very gross flops when I would make something new, etc.) the kids were expected to have what was in the house. Certainly in the area of health decisions, we made the decisions and the children benefited from our research.

But now the kids are bigger. And with bigger kids come bigger ideas and bigger opinions. Those opinions need to be respected and taken into consideration. It isn’t always wise or simple to just dismiss their desires or preferences “because we said so”. Yes we are the parents and we pay the bills, and sometimes that has to be enough. In some cases our rules are our rules and that is the answer. Period. But where we can be flexible we try to be flexible. And here several of our kids have told me that something I think is to their benefit is not to their taste.

So something which I feel strongly is good for them and is in their best interests to do just doesn’t light their fires. I think that raw milk is far superior. I think that raw milk gives them benefits they can’t get otherwise. I think that for various reasons a few of my kids could really really use this milk in their diets. And if they don’t enjoy it as a drink maybe they should suck it up and think of it as medicine.

But… I don’t think regular milk is dangerous. And life is full of things that are unpleasant for them already (homework, waking up before they would want to, not having all of the material possessions they want all the time…)- so do I really want to pile on one more without a super compelling reason? And do I want to be that mom who is such a downer that she doesn’t listen to her kids because her own personal crusades are more important than her children’s voices?

Believe it or not this is not such a simple question.

As parents we are often in a position where we have to be parents before we are friends. It isn’t easy to weigh up what is my own shtick and what is a legitimate use of my parental powers. You have to hold yourself to a pretty high standard of honesty to stay clear on what you are doing to validate your own agenda and what you are doing because it is genuinely for your kids- and often there is overlap, which certainly muddies the waters! In general we make tons of mistakes, and in general we can only hope that the relationship with our kids will be strong enough and trusting enough that both sides know that those mistakes are unintentional. At the end of the day, we only want the best for our kids. The only question is what that road ends up looking like.

So, will I end up buying raw milk in Michigan? If I do, will I end up offering an alternative, or will I just ask my kids to absorb this as a minor casualty of life in the Bass household? I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I am certainly leaning in one direction. If you have a similar issue you have dealt with in your own life, or in your own parenting, I wold love to hear how you dealt with it!