Green Room

Sue Your Way to Responsible Parenting!

posted at 9:34 pm on December 15, 2010 by

Are you tired of being the killjoy parent who won’t buy your kids a Happy Meal when they ask for one? Good news! The Center for the Science in the Public Interest is here to help you. No more guilt, no more unhappy glares…my fellow parents, nirvana awaits.

Like many mothers, Monet Parham wants to feed her daughter one thing, but the girl often wants to eat something else.

It’s the unhappy battle over the Happy Meal and Parham, mother of two and a health educator, said it’s a fight she just can’t win.

“I can tell them ‘No’ all day long, but then they see commercials that convince them you’ve really got to have this,” Parham said. Her 6-year-old daughter Maya especially likes the toys that come with McDonald’s Happy Meals. With a smile, the first grader says opening a Happy Meal is like “a birthday present.”

So now Parham plans to join the Center for Science in the Public Interest in filing a lawsuit today against the fast food giant to force them to either offer lower-calorie meals or get rid of the enticing trinkets.

Alternate headline for this story? “Parent surrenders in Battle of Wills.”

As some readers may know, I’m the parent of two toddlers. I love my girls, cannot imagine life without them and I never regret the decision to become a parent. However, like any parent, I am sometimes faced with a simple and uncomfortable truth: when toddlers want something, they can be really annoying and their persistence is almost limitless. A toddler who craves is a wily and patient creature who is always on the lookout for weak spots. Theirs is a strategy of attrition, and it’s often very difficult to endure without weakening.

Difficult, however, does not equal impossible.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a perfect parent who is always able to bear up under the pressure. I am particularly vulnerable to the pout. We try not to show them too much television, but when I’m tired and just want a moment to rest, I sometimes fall prey to the temptation to fire up the DVR and give them an extra episode of “The Wonder Pets.” Although both my wife and I like to cook, sometimes we just don’t feel like it and at those times a hamburger and fries hits the spot. My girls are no strangers to the Happy Meal, and they like the toys. Like any toddlers, they are sometimes most persistent with their requests.

At the end of the day, though, I am the parent and even if it makes me the most unpopular person in the house, I have a defense against the toddler war of attrition. It is hard, but often necessary, to drop the nuclear bomb of parental weapons.

“No.”

I am not going to pretend this is a simple weapon to deploy. As any parent will tell you, it is sometimes very difficult to deny an unhappy child what they want to have. One of my greatest joys as a parent is watching my children enjoy something – a visit to the playground, a book they love, a television show that makes them laugh, or a meal and toy that will bring them delight. Saying “yes” would make everyone happy, but it is not always the right thing to do.

It is not my intention to be overly hard on Parham. Parenthood is not easy, and I do not judge the decisions she has made as a parent. What I do take issue with is her prejudgment of my parental abilities, and the steps she’s taking to deny me the ability to give my child the simple, rare, pleasure of a Happy Meal. This lawsuit assumes all of us with children are as weak as the parents who have joined the CSPI in suing McDonald’s. That assumption is as offensive as it is patronizing.

Of all of her statements, though, I find this the most distasteful.

“I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat,” Parham said in a CSPI statement announcing the lawsuit.

With all due respect, Ms. Parham, what goes into the head of your children is as much in your control as what goes into their stomachs. What your kids want to eat is completely separate from what you allow them to eat.

As I said before, I do not presume to be a perfect parent. Unlike Ms. Parham and the CSPI, though, I am not willing to allow the government to dictate what my children are allowed to eat due to my inability to say no when they want a Happy Meal.

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I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ heads without my permission

I wonder if the same argument could be used as the basis for a lawsuit against liberal programming in schools.

malclave on December 15, 2010 at 10:21 PM

“…Monet Parham-Lee, who is a “regional program manager” on the state of California payroll for child nutrition matters.
Specifically, she works on a federally funded program that campaigns to exhort people to eat their vegetables and that sort of thing. The comment:
“Interestingly, her name has been scrubbed from the website of Champions for Change, the Network for a Healthy California. She has given numerous presentations and attended conferences on the importance of eating vegetables and whatnot.
“She presents herself as an ordinary mother. She is not. She is an advocate, and an employee of a California agency tasked with advocating the eating of vegetables. To the extent that Monet Parham-Lee has EVER taken her daughter to a McDonald’s, she should have known better.”

http://jammiewearingfool.blogspot.com/2010/12/stupid-public-interest-group-sues.html

mrt721 on December 16, 2010 at 12:00 AM

McDonalds already offers plain or chocolate milk in lieu of a soda, and apple slices in lieu of french fries. How much more healthful of a meal can you give a child than milk, an apple, and all white meat chicken?

If she refuses to actually parent her children and learn how to say no, she should at least teach them to compromise and say “Sure we can do McDonalds, but you’ll need to choose between plain and chocolate milk instead of getting a Coke.”

I can understand treating your child like a miniature adult and trying to reason with them, I do it with my four year old all the time. What I can’t wrap my head around is encouraging your child to act like a bratty adult of whom reason is not expected.

Coincidentally, I gave my son McDonalds for lunch today, and per his request he got a small chocolate shake as the beverage. He drank roughly 1/4 of it and said he’d had enough sugar. Moderation from parents = children who are able to do it themselves. I’m curious how morbidly obese this woman must be if she doesn’t understand who controls one’s stomach.

RachDubya on December 16, 2010 at 12:41 AM

‘No’ is of course a tool every parent must learn to use (if you don’t want to raise a gaggle of brats). We went a step farther in our education of reduced expectations.

We had ‘NO’ days. On these days all desires and wants would be automatically ‘no’. These days can even be inconvenient to all involved. Gaming the system to try and elicit a positive ‘no’ outcome were exposed and shot down.

These days don’t have to be frequent. Occasional, a child will ask and be told no, whereupon they immediately ask ‘is this a no day?’ Usually not. It does have an arbitrary nature to it, just like life. It usually is triggered when the demands start coming in too hot and heavy.

It lets them know that not all heart’s desires are going to get filled. It tells them that their parents aren’t infinitely manipulable. It introduces a degree of uncertaincy into their plots. It can give you a day of relative peace.

GnuBreed on December 16, 2010 at 5:03 AM

She’s really not going to enjoy the dating years, driving years, fashion years, make-up years, homework years, et al.

Robert17 on December 16, 2010 at 7:52 AM

Mickey-D getting into your kid’s head? And it’s corporate greed?

Here sweetie: A free parenting tip from a father of five -

TURN OFF THE DAMN T.V.!

You are most welcome.

BigAlSouth on December 16, 2010 at 8:33 AM

Bad mother! Bad!

My daughter understood and respected No from pretty early on, because she knew a temper tantrum would result in much worse punishment, whether that meant taking away favorite toys for the rest of the day or sometimes even the dreaded spanking.

Laura Curtis on December 16, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Theirs is a strategy of attrition, and it’s often very difficult to endure without weakening.

Can’t you just punish them for nagging you? You know, the old “You want to cry? I’ll give you something to cry about…”

EFG on December 16, 2010 at 10:02 AM

Parham is a useful idiot for the anti-science, anti-human leftist front group using the moniker Center for Science in the Public Interest.

They are pure poison.

Inanemergencydial on December 16, 2010 at 10:57 AM

Monet Parham: A pathetic parent whose first grade child got into her head and forced her to purchase a happy meal.

Wait ’til the kid gets in high school. What will the pathetic mother do against drug dealers?

meMC on December 16, 2010 at 11:02 AM

If her solution to weak-willed parenting at her child’s current age is to sue instead of say no…I forsee a LOT of lawsuits in her future.

DrAllecon on December 16, 2010 at 11:52 AM

This woman is perfectly capable of indoctrinating her own kids. She’s suing for the right to indoctrinate everyone’s kids.

Here’s a Ray Kroc inspired Mark Knopfler tune:
Boom Like That

zmdavid on December 16, 2010 at 12:11 PM

This has nothing to do with her inability to parent. She is just a leftard control freak and the latest fad is to go after McDonald’s. Someone should investigate her and start documenting all the times she can muster up the inner strength to say no to her 2 year old. This is just b.s.

Blake on December 16, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Mom can cook at home. It worked for thousands of years. You would be surprised what hungry kids will eat with home made food.

seven on December 16, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Give the kids condoms and they still get std’s How happy is that?

seven on December 16, 2010 at 12:41 PM

As any parent will tell you, it is sometimes very difficult to deny an unhappy child what they want to have.

that statement is just 100% wrong. as a parent it has never been “hard” to deny my child something that would hurt them no matter how much they want it.

Is it “hard” to not give your child beer? or pot? No it isn’t.

unseen on December 16, 2010 at 12:49 PM

Mom can cook at home. It worked for thousands of years. You would be surprised what hungry kids will eat with home made food.

seven on December 16, 2010 at 12:39 PM

hoe about Parents can cook at home.

unseen on December 16, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Moderation from parents = children who are able to do it themselves.

This.

You know, one problem is people come up with all these arbitrary rules for their kids that they feel pressured to make. The less you agree with your own rules, the harder they are to enforce.

The better alternative is to make the rules you really believe in, enforce them well, and find the way to teach moderation in all else. The BEST thing you can teach your child (who will be an adult one day) is how to make good choices.

MayBee on December 16, 2010 at 12:59 PM

WOW, using your kid as a scapegoat, how truly pathetic! Check it out folks, one more child is going to be learning how to blame others and take no self-responsiblity.

(sarcasm on)
Great to know there will be no shortage of people like that. (sarcasm off)

TturnP on December 16, 2010 at 3:05 PM

This lady is truly pathetic. And BTW, she’s no average “mom” – she’s one of these food-control libs who works for the State of California, and this is all about one thing – control.

http://www.examiner.com/conservative-in-spokane/lawsuit-targets-toys-happy-meals

jdawg on December 16, 2010 at 4:40 PM

With all due respect, Ms. Parham, what goes into the head of your children is as much in your control as what goes into their stomachs.

No kidding. Don’t like t.v. commercials influencing your kiddies’ food choices? Then turn off the t.v. Problem solved.

AZCoyote on December 16, 2010 at 4:56 PM