Thursday, June 24, 2010

Does there come a time when parents have to actually, well, parent?

Okay, granted the US is an astonishingly litigious society. Lawsuits are filed at the drop of a hat. But I read today here that a consumer protection group is planning to sue McDonald's. Being honest here, I can think of many reasons to sue McDonald's. But this rings a bit off to me. The Center for Science in the Public Interest is threatening to sue because McDonald's offers toys in their Happy Meals. Really? Toys? They claim that McDonald's makes "parents' jobs nearly impossible."

I have to say, if you are such a lightweight that you can't say no to McDonald's, maybe it's the parents who should be scrutinized. McDonald's is a fixture of American lives. It is the home of apple pie on the go and is, thus, as American as apple pie. I grew up on McDonald's. And yet, it isn't by accident that JuniorBean's first experience at McDonald's was a birthday party at age 5. ButterBean's first was a birthday party at age 6. As a sometime treat, I have no issue with McDonald's. But, I don't raise my kids on it. And that is my choice, as a parent.

However, to liken McDonald's to a pedophile because they include toys with a meal that is fundamentally unhealthy is WAY over the top. Ironically, they actually make it easier in the US since they offer juice and apples to be substituted for fries and a Coke. For me, Jordan is harder because I'm always struggling to find juice or even water rather than sugary colas.

What offends me here is the idea that your parenting choices should dictate what's available to my child. Teach your children your expectations, be firm, and then let go a little bit. Good gracious. I mean the parents who complain that the kindergarten serves cucumbers and watermelon are failing, in my mind. If you don't want your child to have cucumbers or watermelon, then teach them that. Set the expectation and be firm and consistent.

The Beans don't drink Coke. Period. At a birthday party where ALL of their friends were happily popping tops and drinking, both of the Twin Beans separately came to me and alerted me to the fact that the can of Coke was all that was available for them to drink. They each asked for water. We didn't make a huge deal about it. I didn't go and berate the hostess for serving sugary junk to my kids. I didn't even mention it, I simply got the kids some water and let them go on with their lives. In this instance, three or so other parents followed my lead. But really, we were all following my kids' lead. They came out of the party room to the parent's table to ask for water. So, does any parent really believe you can't teach them? Really? Well, then, perhaps it's not really that important to you...

Happy junk food!


At 10:31 AM , Anonymous jaraad said...

I wish one day people feel about drinking soda the same way they feel about smoking. Of course it is not the same level of danger but still soda is not healthy for both adults and kids.
When I was in Jordan one of my relatives always insist that his daughter never drink soda. In return he was looked at as a bad parent because he don't let his daughter live her childhood like other the kids. So, I am sure you suffer the same thing in Jordan were Cola is the only drink for kids.
A nutritionist once said on TV that the best energy drink for kids and adults, guess what, WATER. Maybe my comment is not very much related to the subject but I liked the idea of giving water to kids instead of Cola.

At 10:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew you'd catch this absurdity in the news.

I'm ready to threaten a counter-suit.


At 3:58 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Jaraad, this is one place where I seem to get the American pass (you know, those crazy Americans and their weird ideas). People still offer my kids colas, but they refuse and ask for water instad :).

Anon, great idea. Maybe a counter-class action suit, teehee.

At 8:56 PM , Anonymous kinzi said...

heh-heh, MB, that was me, didn't know I signed as anon!

YES class action! Let's get the sistas on it!

At 12:40 AM , Blogger Sharon said...

Bravo for getting your children on good habits! I'm wondering though if they would have objected if they had had a selection that included fruit juices or other non-sodas.

My kids do drink coke sometimes but it's a rare treat. Guests over, or we're eating outside, only in the day! (because of the caffine). My little one now likes bubbly water.

I do something though that many parents would not approve of. I let them order diet coke sometimes. They don't have weight issues. It isn't so much for their teeth but I have a confession-my kids spill a lot. Regular coke makes a big sticky mess! Is that vain??

At 12:11 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Sharon, if juice were available, they would simply have asked for it. Although water's usually their first request whe out ;).

Your diet coke thing cracks me up. I'd call it practical. Mine spill lot too. You should see our table after pancakes in the am... Sticky, syrupy mess :(.


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