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It’s not about the Happy Meals, it’s about the parenting

standard December 17, 2010 19 responses

I’ve admitted in the past that we are regular McDonald’s consumers. I’m not ashamed of it. We make pretty decent choices when we’re there. The kids get Happy Meals with apple slices and milk. We get a side order of apple walnut salad and the kids eat more fruit than fries.

No one gets a toy until they’ve eaten all their apples and finished their milk.

Could we be eating at home? Sure.

Could they be eating better that night? Probably.

Do I let my kids tell me what they’ll eat and when? No. Never.

It’s a treat. It’s an easy way for us to eat together without having to run home and cook first. It’s counterbalanced with well balanced meals at all other times. My kids love their veggies and eat them easily.

We eat at McDonald’s and my kids still know all about nutritional eating. They usually eat their apples first.

So when I see stories about people suing McDonald’s because (and I quote) “The woman, Monet Parham of Sacramento, claims that the marketing of Happy Meal toys has interfered with her ability as a parent to provide her two children with a healthful diet.”

I’m sorry, what? This article and law suit have made my eyes bug out with unanswered questions.

Let’s start with this: marketing is interfering with her parenting?

Does her TV not have an off button? (It’s the red one on the remote if the TV doesn’t have one.)

Does she not control what her children watch? (Pst! PBS. No commercials. DVDs. No commercials. No TV. No commercials.)

Is she not the boss of her children? (Who drives them to McDonalds? Who does the grocery shopping? Who has the power to say no?)

How about, instead of blaming marketing and large institutions, we accept the responsibility that comes with having children.

Marketing exists. Things that are unhealthy exists. The world is not clearly labeled for easy and healthy consumption. It us up to us to teach our children to make good choices. The world will bombard them with information and sometimes the information is going to be brightly lit in attractive colors and come packaged with fun toys.

We have two choices. We can see what the world is throwing at our kids and teach them how to handle it. Or we can let our kids see us turn around and blame the people doing the throwing. The first option leads to grown-ups who stand on their own two feet, have a solid sense of their values, and know how to navigate the world. The second option leads to grown-ups who blame everyone around them for their problems.

What’s next for this woman and others like her? Blaming ToysRUs for the clutter in their kid’s room?

Stop blaming everyone. Grow a backbone. Start parenting your kids. You’re the boss. Not the TV.

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19 responses

  • Great arguments to face off against her stupid statement.

    McDonald’s is not the enemy.

  • Rant Rant Rant… I hear you. and surely most if not 99% of all parents know the difference between marketing and being FORCED to do ANYthing. Duh. Double Duh.

  • I agree with you about this lawsuit. However, I disagree that marketing is not harming kids. I recently viewed several videos from the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and its disgusting how marketers are aiming for kids now. I would encourage any and all moms to check out some articles at http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/articles/home.htm or their YouTube videos and take a look at their Facebook page. Sure we can counteract a lot with good parenting, but someone needs to stand up to the big marketers who are taking over the children’s minds and teaching them entitlement and bias via status and class.

    The lady with the lawsuit is looking at it the wrong way, but her heart is in the right place I think. I can clearly see both sides of the issue so I understand a little where she is coming from.

    By the way, I have nothing against McDonalds or Happy Meals. I don’t buy them anymore because my kids are still hungry 5 minutes after eating them lol. But… it’s the way the marketing is accomplished that is the problem, especially for vulnerable kids.

  • Exactly! Well said and I wholeheartedly agree.

    Parents need to get back to parenting. It’s ok to make rules and it’s ok to hand out the consequences when rules are not followed. We’re supposed to be teaching and guiding our children to be good citizens and make good choices on their own. That’s our job as parents.

    On a side note, I am always amazing and worried when I see parents trying to validate their choices with their kids. I don’t believe in saying “because I’m the mommy and I said so” but I also don’t believe in having to answer TO my child for the choices I make as a parent. I explain to them why we do or do not do certain things and they accept that because that is how they’ve been raised.

  • Diane,

    I think marketing can have the ability to skew reality for our children but with guidance and good parenting we can help them see marketing for what it is.

    I monitor what my children watch and listen to on the radio closely – I explain to them that it’s the commercial’s job to make them think they want things they don’t really need. That’s their job – I explain the difference between wants and needs. My children are in kindergarten and they get it.

    Do they still ask for stuff? Sure, but they understand that we cover our needs first and that we don’t have to have what the commercials tell us are “hot”, “new” and “in.”


  • I agree @Dayngr – good parenting and guidance can offset most of the damage. However, I challenge any parent to watch that video and not be the slightest bit mad at marketers. No matter how good your parenting is, there will come a time when your kids will want something they don’t need and they will make you feel guilty for not buying it for them. It’s that consumer entitlement attitude that parents are trying to curb… and we can do it, it’s just really, really hard with all the commercialization that comes from every angle, not just on commercials.

    And unfortunately, not everyone is a good parent or realizes what these marketers are doing, because they’ve fallen into the trap themselves. I think those are the ones who need to be educated.

    I’m just trying to pass the word along. 🙂

  • The sheer idiotic-ness of this lawsuit really undermines any validity to her argument. Start parenting, stop suing (and buy a DVR…it’s probably cheaper than a lawyer).

  • AMEN!!!!! We are fast food junkies I have no shame in that. But like you it’s toy after food. Don’t go to McDonald’s lady. YOU got them hooked on it, not McDonald’s. I hate that this has really happened.

  • Great blog Jessica. It seems like their is a huge lack of personal responsibility in our world right now. It is time for taking control of our lives and not filing lawsuits. I also posted your blog to our Facebook page and the fact that lawsuits aren’t the answer.

  • If that lady wins I will fall over and pass out, perhaps never to be revived.

  • Amen! It’s all just ridiculous. Any wonder there’s a lot of talk about the problem of entitlement?

  • Kelly

    Great response Jessica. I do agree though that there is some merit in protecting kids from marketing but not sure this lawsuit really is the right way to go about that.

  • exactly. thank you.

    and as for the entitlement stuff? teach them young that they don’t get everything they want. it will make for a much less painful adulthood.

    still worried about it? turn the television OFF.

  • I agree with all of you. I think the lawsuit is ridiculous and turning off the tv is the best thing to do if the commercials are bothersome. I wasn’t attacking anyone’s viewpoint; I just thought Jessica’s audience might be interested in knowing just how much marketers are involved in getting kids when they’re little. It’s not just about tv commercials, either. I doubt anything will come of the lawsuit. However, people have won stupid stuff before, so who knows.

    I only shared the video because I learned about the Campaign during one of my ECE courses last semester and it was very intriguing. I’ll try not to step on any toes in the future, was only trying to add 2 cents. I’ll take it back, I need the change anyway. 🙂

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE this post.
    Some people are just sue-happy.

  • It’s sad when people sue over not wanting to take the time and effort to be a responsible parent.

  • We also eat at McDonalds occasionally (about once a month) usually on a road trip. We eat fries when we go, we eat plenty of apples at other times! When I go to McDonalds I want fries!

    Though I think the lawsuit is daft, I also agree with Dianne about the marketing to children. Sure, we can turn off the TV, but should we have to? Shouldn’t there be some regulation as to what can be marketed to children. Corporations like McDonalds have these huge advertising budgets that dwarf any campaigns for healthy, non branded foods. Kids get a one sided message, driven by “big food’. The US is the only country in the world that doesn’t regulate advertising to children.

    Parenting is what matters, sure, but parenting is a tough gig, and IMO we need our government to help us, not hinder us.

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