The mom who just filed suit against McDonald’s for selling Happy Meals (aided and abetted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest) claims that the fast-food giant has made it much more difficult for her to refuse the entreaties of her children and to provide them with a healthful diet.
This doesn’t cut it with me. I don’t have kids, but I was one once, so I’m familiar with the business end of parental discipline. My particular bête noire was liver and onions, and I felt that life was being terribly unfair to me when I was forced to eat said repulsive dish.
In retrospect, though, when I realized that no amount of wheedling and whining was ever going to change the situation (without exception), it provided a certain sense of stability. Stability and predictability are what kids really crave, anyway, even though they may not know it.
What is required, though, is that parents discipline their own behavior as well as the child’s. Take my dog, Tallulah, who is shown at right (an adorable basset-shepherd mix, in case you were wondering). Half the time I tell her to do something, she ignores me. This is not her fault, but mine for not putting in the time to train her properly (as Mrs. Lowe-Down frequently reminds me).
So my advice to the mom, to quote Nancy Reagan, is to “Just Say No,” and to say it consistently, rather than attempt to invoke the power of the nanny state to restrict a lawful product. Sure they’ll say they hate you at the moment. But years from now, they’ll come back to visit for the holidays.
And yes, I know dogs are different than kids. Tallulah doesn’t mind being seen with me in public, she doesn’t ask to be driven to the mall, and I never have to worry about whether she’s hanging out with the wrong element.