Feeding Our Children. A Parent’s Job

With childhood obesity running rampant in our country, it would seem that many parents are failing to do what is best for their children. We try to win the popularity contest or try to be a friend vs. being a parent.   Parents have the job of making unpopular decisions and enforcing them.  This is especially true when we determine the family meals and what is done with play time.

Many Chic readers are from the generation that had to eat fruits and vegetables to get their nutrients instead of getting them from fruit roll-ups and a V8.  We also were told to “go outside and play”, but many kids today have never played “kick the can” or climbed a tree.  Instead they get “screen time” from TV, computers, or hand-held devices.

It is the parent’s job to decide what goes into the grocery cart.  It is also their job to decide what is for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  We rule over the video games and the computer.  All too often, we come home from work tired and look for the quickest way to get food on the table, or the easiest way to keep the kids busy, at the expense of our children’s health and well-being.

Speak to any school nurse and you will learn of the surge of children that are diabetics because of being overweight.  A trip to King’s Island will prove that the majority of us are fat, and now statistics show that there are more obese people than those simply overweight.  Some of us may outlive our overweight children as a result. We have a major problem and parents need to step up to the plate and quit taking the easy road.

I was recently visiting with two 9-year old boys who were both obviously overweight.  At 9 years old, they had significant rolls of fat, and one even stated that his Wii Fit game said he was obese.  The first kid had never eaten at Subway before, but added “I have eaten at McDonald’s and Burger King thousands of times.”  The second kid had also eaten at McDonald’s “all the time” and had just eaten a Big Mac and fries hours before.  No big surprise that these two boys were whizzes on Guitar Hero.

Now, I am not “holier than thou.”  My son gets fast food about 5X per year when I am in a bind.  I am also not an expert in parenting, I am a rookie father with only one 9-year old boy, but common sense tells me that taking an overweight child to McDonald’s for a Big Mac and fries is not the best job of parenting. Nor is offering an overweight kid a treat on a daily basis, or letting them play video games regularly.

Consistently caving into convenience at the dinner table, at the expense of setting a good example and establishing healthy habits, is not getting the parenting job done.  Are we showing our children how much we love them, when we pass on the same issues that we battle with from being overweight?  One French fry at a time, some parents are killing their children’s physical and psychological well-being.

Doing the right thing for our children takes time, takes effort, and takes planning.  But that is the job description that comes with the title of parent.  We will all get in a rush and hit the fast food joint on occasion and that is okay. But you make the decisions on where you go, and what they eat. Feeding them a turkey breast sandwich from Subway over a Whopper may not make you the most popular parent, nor will making them play outside vs. in front of a television screen.  But that is the tough love that comes with the job.

Parenting is not a popularity contest, it is a responsibility and a job.  But our children end up with the pink slip if we screw up.


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