Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures (The Happy Meal Ban)

The city of San Francisco has announced a ban on toys in Happy Meals starting in December 2010.  According to Supervisor Eric Mar they are, “Part of the movement that is moving forward the agenda of food justice.”  Though the measure will be vetoed by the mayor, there are enough votes to override the veto. 

Although I’ve known the general story for a while, I was interested last week when my wife placed a comment on her Facebook page saying that she didn’t think the ban would work in terms of sales.  What really drew my interest were the replies.  There were a lot of people who were passionate about this issue.

The goal of this blog is to have parents think; not push an ideological agenda.  Therefore, many angles of the debate won’t be covered here.  What will be covered though is the one word that really sticks out to me when thinking about this issue.  That word is control.

The truth is we all have kids who ask/push for things.  Some kids want that shiny toy in the store.  Some want the latest X-Box game.  Others want the Happy Meal.  The fact that kids want things should not be surprising.  Kids should have the freedom to ask for anything they want.  But it’s our job as parents to exert control and enact that dirty little word we all understand: NO.  Those of us who can use that word when needed should not worry about our kids getting obese from Happy Meals.

I swear my children can read my mind at times because my 3 year old provided a perfect example yesterday for this blog.  We were in Kroger and when we passed aisle 3, he started asking for chocolate.  I told him no and he did what a lot of 3 year olds do: kept asking.  If you remember nothing else from this blog, please store this next point into your memory: Children know it doesn’t matter how many times a parent says the answer “no.”  It only takes one “yes” to get what they want.

I was hoping as we kept walking around the store, he would forget.  That wasn’t the case.  When we got close to the checkout line, his requests became more animated.  I stopped the cart, looked into his eyes, and said, “I know you want chocolate and I – said-  no.” The issue was over at that point.  Even my three year old knew it because he stopped asking.  

I have a different mentality than some parents.  After all, I’ve been through battles in public settings with children at St. Joseph Children’s Home and on field trips as a teacher. Public confrontations with children do not bother me.  I had a cart full of groceries, a bum ankle from an injury two weeks ago, and my son who wouldn’t let the chocolate idea go.  Regardless, I didn’t flinch.

What happens sometimes in these situations is parents do flinch.  It would have been easier to give in based on the circumstances.  I’ve seen firsthand what happens over time when parents give in to the whims of children after making their initial decision.  Certain house parents at St. Joseph’s could be worn down over time.  These same house parents were the ones who consistently struggled managing the kids.  

To summarize, I understand eating Happy Meals can add pounds and jeopardize health.  I also know McDonald’s along with a host of other companies market products to my child.  But, I also know that I am a parent with the power of control.  That single power trumps all.

On Friday, there will be a special edition of the education blog.  I will focus on a recent story about high schools in Louisville, KY.  Even if you are one of my out of state readers, check back in.  The issue being faced is similar to ones you’ll find in your district as well.    

All the best to you and your families!

The beginning paragraph was paraphrased from the following source.
www.nydailynews.com/…/2010-11-03_san_francisco_enacts_happy_meal_ban_city_decides_to_prohibit_toys_to_come_with_f.html
 

One comment

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