Happy Meal

What am I going to do the next time I drive by the golden arches and my son begs to stop for a happy meal? Likely what I always do. Think about it. Has he had too many hamburgers lately? Do we have time for him to run around the PlayPlace? And then I will make a decision. But do I now have to worry who is looking over my shoulder?

Parents of obese children are losing custody for medical neglect–a case of too many trips to fast food restaurants or other unhealthy eating and/or lifestyle choices. And just last week, David Schorr was reported by the court-appointed psychologist in his child custody battle as being “wholly incapable of taking care of his son.” His crime? This dad decided that his four year old son had had too much fast food and refused to take him to McDonalds. The child pitched a fit, and when given the choice of a healthy restaurant option or nothing, chose nothing. Mr. Schorr dropped his child off early to his mother’s home without dinner. Mom reported her ex-husband to the psychologist and then took the little darling to McDonalds. Link to AP/ABC news article

Kids who are struggling to maintain a healthy weight need to be told no when they beg for junk food. Even if you are tired. Even if it’s cheap food. Even if you are tired of hearing your child whine. And parents need to say no without feeling guilty.

And Mr. Schorr needs to be able to say no without legal ramifications. Unless there’s more to the story, the court appointed psychologist seems to have made a gross error in judgment. Is it possible she was denied happy meals as a child?

And mom has clearly not thought this one through. Has she thought about what happens when her ex-husband has an issue with a parenting decision she makes? What if she and her son watch a movie that dad deems too violent? Is she prepared to parent via court order with a full-time referee?

And why did she report the McDonald’s incident to the court anyway? Her child was disappointed. That’s it. And in protecting him from disappointment, she is ensuring that her child will grow up less equipped to handle bad news and frustration. He will be a more attractive target for bullies. And if he routinely gets his way, he’s going to be hell on wheels when he’s a teen.

Parenting without guilt and in the best interest of a child requires maturity, foresight, patience, courage, and the ability to connect the dots. My little darlings would love to eat fast food every day. And I would love a hot bath and 30 minutes of peace every day. We’ll both get a little of what we want.

By:  Peggy Lee



See the ORIGINAL POST from Peggy Lee’s Site.

Editor’s Note: It is also important to note that even McDonald’s has healthy options.  A parent can substitute milk or juice instead of soda, fruit instead of fries, and grilled chicken instead of hamburger.  Of course, kids usually don’t want a Happy Meal for the apple slices.  They want the burger, fries, soda, and toy.  I’m just guessing, that was the case with this child.  I’m betting he didn’t say, “Daddy, I really want some healthy apple slices, grilled chicken, salad, and water in a Happy Meal box, with a toy.”  Dad made a choice to say no.  Mom made the choice to report Dad.  The court appointed psychologist, who labeled dad as “wholly” incapable of handling his four-year-old is now facing a a defamation lawsuit.  

There is a part of me that wonders if this mother actually coddles her son as much as the media has indicated.  I wonder if she likely would have or has done the same thing, but smack in the middle of the vicious custody battle, has acted out of desperation.  Not only is this not the Happy Meal’s Fault, it’s not about the Happy Meal at all!  

The lesson here, folks:  When parents are going through a divorce, they need to dig deep and respect that their soon-to-be-ex will not always agree with their parenting.  Honestly, even happily married couples go through this same battle with their children.   I guess the court appointed psychologist never considered the damage her and the mother might be doing to the son, by painting a father who actually wants custody of his son as a neglectful and incapable parent.  During a time as difficult as divorce, what a child most needs is consistency, continued rules and discipline, and extra assurance that each parent loves the child.  This story is disappointing on so many levels. ~ Alicia Gonzalez