I just read this article. Don’t waste your time on the link, really. It’s basically about a group that is suing McDonald’s for using toys in their Happy Meals that lure kids in like little marketing drugs. According to one intelligent group spokesman, it’s almost like having a salesman come door-to-door trying to sell products to your children.
Um, sure it is. Except that it isn’t at all, since McDonald’s isn’t in your home nor does it visit there.
My favorite part was this claim he made:
“At some point parents get worn down,” Jacobson says. “They don’t always want to be saying no to their children. We feel like an awful lot of parents would be relieved if this one pressure was removed from them.”
Wow. Isn’t it a parent’s job to say no? A lot?
I am not trying to make any statements about fast food, childhood obesity, or even about the level of stupid some lawsuits have reached; however, I just want to go on record for saying that everything important in parenting has to be repeated over and over and over again. Saying no is no exception. Making and enforcing rules is kind of a job requirement. Yes, that might be a little inconvenient. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could tell children no one time and they would never again repeat their request? According to Mr. Jacobson, my life would be so much easier if I could eliminate the pressure of turning down my child’s plea for a heart-attack kit in a smiling cardboard box. Perhaps so, sir, but I can think of far more overwhelming pressures that would be much higher on my list of things to eliminate, like the pressure of giving them every thing they ask for and turning them into arrogant and entitled brats, for example.
Just today I told my son, “It’s my job to provide you with all your needs, not any of your wants.” Does anyone else feel like sometimes parents believe themselves obligated to meet all their children’s needs and wants? It’s insane. One of my greatest triumphs (at least financially) was at the grocery store a few weeks ago. Clark asked for a treat at the check out. (Tangent: I’m not fond of stores having candy right there, but I’ve learned to say no. Frequently. On the other hand, if I see an inappropriate magazine at the checkout I almost always call the store on the carpet. One is a matter of availability, the other is a matter of exposure.) So I said no. He started to ask why he couldn’t have one, then he stopped himself and said, “I know, mom, I know. We can’t buy the things we want so we’ll have enough money for the things we need.” Amen, Clark. And frankly, even if there is enough money to buy something, it’s still okay to say no.
There is a really great talk by Bishop H. David Burton called “More Holiness Give Me” where he explains:
“Parents who have been successful in acquiring more often have a difficult time saying no to the demands of overindulged children. Their children run the risk of not learning important values like hard work, delayed gratification, honesty, and compassion. Affluent parents can and do raise well-adjusted, loving, and value-centered children, but the struggle to set limits, make do with less, and avoid the pitfalls of “more, more, more” has never been more difficult. It is hard to say no to more when you can afford to say yes. … More indulgence of children may result in less understanding of life’s important values.”
So yes, it’s hard to say no. But it’s also important. Basically, all I’m saying, Mr. Jacobson, is that if you don’t like the pressure of saying no to your children, you might have a little more to worry about than Happy Meal toys.