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Stop Abdicating Responsibility April 16, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Food & Drink, Health & Wellness.

I stumbled into a disturbing comment this morning on a blog post about school lunches.  In pertinent part, the comment read:

Obesity in children is at an all time high.  If parents choose to feed the children junk, that’s ok.  But the institutions that are supposed to serve the well being of our children should know better.


Did he actually say that parents . . . you, know, the people who CHOSE to bring children into the world . . . are LESS responsible for their OWN children’s well-being than our government institutions???

Did he actually say, “If parents choose to feed their children junk, that’s OK?”

Because, quite frankly, it’s not.

Neglecting a child’s nutritional needs is a form of child neglect, on par with neglecting to take them to the doctor or dentist.

And when parents neglect the needs of their own children, they have no business complaining when institutions (such as schools) follow their lead.

When it comes to the well-being of children, institutions should be secondary.  Parents should be primary.

If we want to maintain hard-won freedoms and personal autonomy, we need to stop abdicating responsibility for our lives.

Parents:  If your children are overweight, don’t waste time and energy blaming the school system.  Instead, tell your kids to turn off the TV and computer games, and go outside and play. 

And when dinner time rolls around, set a good example for them by serving delicious and nutritious low-fat fruits and veggies on a regular basis.

Related posts & resources:  The Farcical Campaign Against Corpulence & Being An Accountable Human



1. tlc4women - April 16, 2010

I think the writer was saying that if parents don’t care if their kids are fat, that’s one thing, but the school shouldn’t follow suit. I see the writer’s point, but I disagree. As parents, we are the first line of defense in all areas of well-being. If we teach our children healthy eating habits, then they wouldn’t want to eat what the schools are serving and schools would do better.

We have a whole group of morbidly obese children in our church. It’s so sad to see them unable to move about as children do. I don’t blame the school, I blame the parents.

2. nrhatch - April 16, 2010

Excellent points.

Healthy habits are best established early in life.

When children are morbidly obese, parents need to take a good hard look in the mirror to see how the choices they are making have contributed to that untenable situation.

Thanks for commenting!

3. Richard W Scott - April 16, 2010

Giving up responsibilty for our actions is more than a problem, it is a way of life.

In San Francisco, Dan White murders George Moscone and Harvey Milk and then pleads diminished capacity because of a change in his diet from wholesome to surgary foods.

It is always someone’s or something’s fault when we fail.

Have you ever noticed you’ve never met anyone who was just “late”?

They are always “late because”.

Oh, and by the way, it’s YOUR FAULT that I’m not getting my own blogging done.


4. nrhatch - April 16, 2010

I think that’s exactly why his comment struck me so hard . . . because it’s not just about obesity and school lunches.

It’s about accepting responsibility for the choices we make in life, and stepping up to the plate to accept the consequences of our actions.

That said, I will accept full responsibility for any delayed blog postings on your part today. : )

5. Chad - April 16, 2010

If the well-being of children is important, why assign “primary” or “secondary” status at all? Not everything is subject to rank or hierarchy. Institutions should care for kids. Parents should care for kids. Neighbors should care for kids. Kids should care for themselves and other kids. When people look for someone to blame, they always want to find just one party who is really responsible or “most” responsible. How often does that desire actually correspond to reality?

6. nrhatch - April 16, 2010

Interesting comments, Chad. But I tend to disagree with your view of the world on this issue. : )

When parents choose to bring children into the world, they step directly into the role of PRIMARY caregivers for their offspring.

As a society, we do not have the necessary resources to look over the shoulders of everyone who chooses to become a parent to make sure that diapers are changed and nutritional (and emotional) needs are met.

And, even if we did have the necessary resources, do we really want to invite Big Brother into our homes???

Even if some things are not subject to rank or hierarchy, the role of PRIMARY caregivers for children sure is. ; )

That’s not to say that institutions, neighbors, family members, and friends shouldn’t also look out for kids . . . of course they should.

But the role of PRIMARY caregiver for children should remain with the individuals who chose to bring those kids into the world ~ at least until they clearly establish they are unfit for the task at hand.

7. Mandy Ward - April 16, 2010

I agree with everything said so far.

But I would like to point out that there are a number of things that can affect weight, not *just* a parent’s / school’s care –

For example –

Medical problems:

They should *not* be the first port of call when a child is obese, but they *should* be explored

Mental Problems:

Some kids eat everything their parents give them and take their pocket money / lunch money and buy nothing but junk during the day, then hide it so they can binge because they are being bullied by someone.

But essentially, unless the child is under the age of ten (that magical age when they are supposed to understand cause and effect) that child is responsible for what they put into their bodies.

It’s called Education – both Parents and Schools are responsible for educating children on health and nutrition. If the parent doesn’t understand it then they need to be taught it…

8. nrhatch - April 16, 2010

Mandy ~

Of course there are medical and mental issues which cause a small percentage of individuals ~ both children and adults ~ to be overweight. But that’s not really what this post is about.

This post is about who is in charge? The individual or the institution?

It’s about accepting responsibility for our lives and the lives of our children. It’s about not abdicating that responsibility to “big brother.”

That said, if a parent doesn’t understand the nutritional needs of their children . . . maybe they need to do a bit of research. : )

9. Tsuchigari - April 17, 2010

What rubs me wrong is these kids who rely on the school system to feed them and they can’t get a well balanced meal.

Yes, children’s first teachers are their parents. In a perfect world, all parents would have the skills to teach their children how to eat healthy food, be socially responsible, and feel good about themselves. The sad truth is that more and more parents are lacking these skills.

The school system shouldn’t have to pick up the slack, but if they don’t then who will? If these kids don’t learn healthy living skills somewhere then their children will show the same issues and the problem will continue to spiral out of control.

10. nrhatch - April 17, 2010

Jo ~

I am definitely in favor of schools offereing nutritional food choices for children. I also feel that health education in schools should cover healthy eating habits and the benefits of physical fitness.

And doctors should provide parents with guidance on keeping kids healthy and fit ~ not just fighting illness when it arises.

What really got me going was the bald statement that it’s OK for parents to CHOOSE to feed their kids junk at home, but that institutions should be held to a higher standard.

It’s not OK for parents to KNOWINGLY neglect the nutritional needs of their kids. It’s not OK for parents to take a back seat in the raising of children they CHOSE to bring into this world.

If people don’t want to take the time to put in the hard work of being a parent, the solution is simple: DON’T BECOME A PARENT. : )

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