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Your Kids . . . Your Responsibility! August 22, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, People.
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Joel Bakan, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, is the author of “Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children.”

Recently, he submitted an Op-Ed to the New York Times, “The Kids Are Not All Right.”

170px-Italienischer_Maler_des_17._Jahrhunderts_001

Wikipedia ~ Charles Mellin (in Public Domain)

In his article, he states:

Childhood obesity mounts as junk food purveyors bombard children with advertising, even at school.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study reports that children spend more hours engaging with various electronic media — TV, games, videos and other online entertainments — than they spend in school.

Much of what children watch involves violent, sexual imagery, and yet children’s media remain largely unregulated.

Attempts to curb excesses — like California’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors — have been struck down by courts as free speech violations.

He concluded the article by saying:

The challenge before us is to reignite the guiding ethos and practices of the century of the child.

As Nelson Mandela has said, “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

By that measure, our current failure to provide stronger protection of children in the face of corporate-caused harm reveals a sickness in our societal soul.

The good news is that we can — and should — work as citizens, through democratic channels and institutions, to bring about change.

Since the article didn’t include a comment box, I’m commenting here:

Dear Mr. Bakun ~

Where are the parents in this equation?  

As I see it, the problem does not lie with corporations who put crap into junk food.  The problem is that parents buy that junk food and feed the crap to their kids.

Likewise, if kids are watching too much crap on TV . . . parents have a responsibility to change the channel or, better yet, turn the TV off.

If we want our children to grow up to be responsible adults . . . parents need to stop acting like whiny babies.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Stop Abdicating Responsibility * Parenting 101 * The Farcical Campaign Against Corpulence & Being An Accountable Human * Paternalism Produces Whiny Babies * Tired of Paternalism * Setting of a Mind (Janna)

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Comments»

1. Maggie - August 22, 2011

Yes! I completely agree. Parents should be the regulators, not government. And if parents don’t want to regulate what their children consume (be it food or entertainment or whatever), then they should not be parents.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Yup! I’m fed up with paternalism . . . asking the government to step in because parents are too lazy, ignorant, or irresponsible to raise their own kids.

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.

Posky - August 23, 2011

Maybe that’s the one thing the government should regulate: breeding.

Seriously though, Nance knows this is a topic close to my heart. Humans need more accountability and less excuses. Every child is different and it’s every parents job to assess those differences and try to raise that child in a manner that will not yield a serial killer, sub-human freak, domestic abuser or other undesirable traits.

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

Oh, Posky! I love what you’ve added to this thread:

Every child is different and it’s every parents job to assess those differences and try to raise that child in a manner that will not yield a serial killer, sub-human freak, domestic abuser or other undesirable traits.

B~I~N~G~O! 😎

2. Lian - August 22, 2011

You are absolutely right! In my opinion, if you want kids you’d better take care of them. And that includes preparing a healthy dinner.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

And, as you demonstrated so perfectly . . . making them do their homework BEFORE they go swimming. 😉

3. nrhatch - August 22, 2011

As I commented on an earlier post:

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.

4. Judith - August 22, 2011

And being a responsible parent means checking what they watch on TV, restricting the hours spent on TV and other media games, clothing them, keeping them warm and ALSO monitoring what they eat. As a parent it is up to you to instil healthy eating habits into your children. It is not the responsibility of the government or of the purveyors of junk food.
Well said Nancy.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Thanks, Judith. The more we look to others to satisfy our feelings of “entitlement” . . . the more inclined we become to ask others to step in and fix our problems.

From my perspective, we need more “tough love” from parents and less governmental intrusion.

Parents need to be brave enough to look their kids in the eye and say, “NO! You may NOT watch that program.”

“NO! You may NOT have another cookie, soda, bag of chips.”

“NO! You may NOT play video games on a gorgeous summer day. Go outside and play.”

5. Naomi - August 22, 2011

LOL! Nancy, I don’t think I’ve told you before, but I love your “Aah…that’s better!” conclusion 😀 Still, the obesity issue is rather a sad state of affairs. I’m relieved to be let off the hook on this one, not having my own kids.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Thanks, Naomi! When something is niggling me . . . I like to let it out and let it go.

And it DOES feel better. 😎

When I see all the challenges that parents and their offspring face, I’m delighted with our decision to remain child-free.

Much easier to stand on the sidelines and play “referee.”

Since I was a child once myself, I see how influential parents can be in regulating behavior and teaching their kids right from wrong.

6. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - August 22, 2011

I’m not a parent, but I know growing up that I had to eat what was on my plate. It was never junk. Thought-provoking post!

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

We almost never had soda or chips in the house.

If we wanted to eat crap like that we had to walk 2 miles (round trip) in the snow or sweltering heat to visit the General Store. And we had to use our $1 a week allowance to pay for it. 😀

7. crumbl - August 22, 2011

We once again share a similar thought process, Nancy … someone needs to bitch slap the parents into a reality check, not the kids … they don’t know any better than are they taught.

I don’t have kids of my own (although I’ve parented more than a few), and my first rule has always been … when I say it, I mean it … it isn’t a discussion, nor a debate … you wanna make the rules, you better have a good job and a house of your own in which to live! My house, my rules and I don’t care how old you are or how smart you think you are, I may be old, but my foot can still lift high enough fast enough to kick your ass.

LRHG and I grew up in the same era … you walked to school, you walked (or rode your bike) pretty much everywhere … no “mom taxi” … we should have been so lucky … you came in for dinner at 5, you got to play outside until the streetlights came on (later in the winter if you were lucky) … never did I come home crying and whining about a cut or bruise or whatever … suck it up, princess … what’re you, a sissy boy? Broke my nose three times, played rugby, lacrosse, football … my last game, when I had one of those Aha! (also doh!) moments, I got creamed … 3 ribs, wrist (compound fracture), collarbone broken. Stuff happens … deal with it. Too small to play with the big burly boys any more, or I gotta run faster.

Anyone can pop out a baby … it should be harder to become a parent. Actually, that doesn’t state it well … it’s easy to father or birth a child … that in NO way makes you fit as a parent.

We had a different sensibility. I like to think it made us stronger and more self-sufficient.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

clap . . . claP . . . clAP . . . cLAP . . . CLAP . . . {{wild applause}}

Monkey see. Monkey do.

When we see our parents making ethical decisions and acting with integrity . . . we emulate their lead.

When we see our parents pointing the figure at everyone but the person in the mirror . . . we emulate that lack of responsibility.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Didn’t need no welfare state
Everybody pulled his weight

Those were the days!

8. Chad - August 22, 2011

OK, parents “should” do all these things. They don’t. What should be done about it after the fact? If you care about the welfare of children, then the question should be “what can I do?” not “who can I blame?”

-=Chad=-

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nrhatch - August 22, 2011

I have proposed a solution: Parents need to stop being whiny babies and learn how to be better parents.

To that end, I’ve posted articles on nutrition, exercise, fresh air, sunshine with links to resources for parents to use to educate themselves.

It’s not a question of “blame.” It’s a question of “responsibility.”

Mr. Bakan (a parent) wants to lay responsibility on corporate greed and misconduct. I want to lay responsibility on the individuals who CHOSE to bring children into the world.

crumbl - August 22, 2011

Don’t have kids if you can’t provide for them … seems simple enough to me, Chad. I didn’t cause the problems, I’m just avoiding blame that’s wrongly directed at me. Do I care about the welfare of children? In general, sure … specifically, definitely … my nieces and nephews, you bet. Starving children in Africa … not so much.

I have a different perspective … the question should be, in my opinion, don’t try to make your problem my problem, and what can YOU do to fix it?

Chad - August 22, 2011

I guess I believe in one for all and all for one, solidarity, equality, fraternity, those sorts of things. These children are fat. They are alive. Telling their parents they made a mistake in having children is not a solution.

Clearly, parents should prevent their children from becoming fat. I doubt anybody would argue with that. However, when child obesity becomes a major health problem on a societal level, it is time for those in charge to either fix the problem or else passively allow it to cause serious damage. This is not an expense, it is an investment. Having high levels of childhood obesity will cost a lot more if it is suffered to go on. Stupid or careless parenting is a fact of life and where parents fail, the community must step in or suffer the consequences later. “It takes a village”

-=Chad=-

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nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Wow! Seriously? Did you really mean to say:

However, when child obesity becomes a major health problem on a societal level, it is time for those in charge to either fix the problem or else passively allow it to cause serious damage.

Who are these fictional people you’ve created and refer to as “those in charge”???

WE are in charge. WE the people.

I will agree with you on one point . . . stupidity is INDEED a fact of life. I see stupid people everywhere. 😉

Chad - August 22, 2011

By those in charge I refer to our legislators, judges, and the capitalist managerial class. Your points about personal power are well-taken, but surely you realize that there are some people in this world with enormous amounts of power, who have deliberately made this child obesity epidemic because it is profitable to their business interests. Do some people choose to feed their children crap when they have numerous alternatives? Check-a-roony, and more’s the pity. On the other hand, are many people priced out of the market for good food, or bombarded with advertising for crappy food, or perhaps unable to reach markets where healthy food is sold because they live in poor neighborhoods with poor groceries?

-=Chad=-

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nrhatch - August 22, 2011

I believe the problem starts when we label people as “victims” instead of asking them to do better. Doing so, cripples them (with “kindness”) because they don’t see that the choices they made contributed to the end result.

Encouraging them to stand on their own two feet and accept responsibility for the series of poor choices they’ve made thus far in life is far more compassionate in the long run.

Once kids (of all ages) accept responsibility for their actions and see that their actions have consequences, they’re on the road to recovery ~ no longer victims of their past, they become the architects of their future.

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nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Once again, crumbl:

claP . . . clAP . . . cLAP . . . CLAP!!!!

crumbl - August 22, 2011

Thanks, Nancy, and again, Chad, clearly, you and I have different sensibilities. If your child’s health is at issue, damn skippy you’re responsible … if it’s because you let them stuff their face to the point of falling off their chair … the societal issue isn’t the kid … it’s you. Don’t make your problem my problem … can’t deal with it, don’t bring it on yourself.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Well said, crumbl.

Once people realize that WE THE PEOPLE are ultimately the ones in charge, maybe they’ll stop abdicating responsibility.

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9. souldipper - August 22, 2011

Hey Nance, I sent a link for your post to Joel Bakan in hopes he will respond. He is a Rhodes Scholar which makes me even more keen to hear from him.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Awesome! I’d love to hear from him. 😀

Thanks, Amy.

souldipper - August 22, 2011

Joel is interviewed today on CBC – here: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Radio/Q/1560020246/ID=2102220608

He comes on about 20 to 25 minutes into the program.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Thanks, Amy. Does he discuss the role that parents should play in overseeing their offspring?

10. kateshrewsday - August 22, 2011

Nancy, this is so strong, and refreshing as a cool breeze in a desert to read. I keep remembering Daniel Goleman and his Vital Lies, Simple Truths. We are capable, as individuals and as a society, of ‘building’ blind spots where we do not want to notice unattractive aspects of our lives. Parents themselves are drawn in to rampant materialism: our new cathedrals are our malls – and we allow the noise of the world to drown out the inner voice which says this is all so very wrong. Our riots in the UK are a symptom of parents who have brought their children up in a cult of acquisition, and who will not limit them, now that the fruits of their upbringing are showing themselves. The still, small inner voice is our only hope: and how can we get a whole society of parents to listen?

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Thanks, Kate!

You have hit the nail on the head. Children today are being brought up in a cult of acquisition and materialism. And they (and their parents) aren’t finding happiness in acquiring more STUFF because that’s not where happiness lies.

Happiness surfaces of its own accord when we listen to that still silent voice within . . . Be Here Now.

How do we get a whole society of parents to listen? We talk about it in pockets here and there until they overhear us and decide to join the conversation. 😀

11. Piglet in Portugal - August 22, 2011

The problems with a lot of children today is they are not taught the meaning of the word respect. Parents have no control and children are allowed to rule the roost.
It happens with children from all backgrounds ie went out to lunch with a couple whose children attend one of the top public schools in the UK. They played with their food and then bored they crawled under the table smelling everyones feet. I jest not.
their ages were 5, 8 and 10years old.
My children would not have dreamed in a million years of doing that because they were brought up with the words Children should be seen and not heard in public places. The boys would always open the doors for woman or their elders and always please and thankyou.

If they wanted something they worked for it to learn the value of money.

My kids thought I was too strict at the time compared to other parents, but they have thanked me since. They even sound like me when they talk about the kids of today!

As for food it was me who eat all the pies!

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Good points, PiP!

Children benefit from learning boundaries and manners from adults ~ they start to realize that their rights end where someone else’s rights begin.

They pick up on the fact that it’s not all about them . . . they are not cats, after all. 😉

Piglet in Portugal - August 22, 2011

Good point about cats. Our daughter’s cats and the inlaws flipping smelly dog have more rights than we do….of course we dare not complain…oh no! We know our place in the pecking order LOL 🙂

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Cats rule! 😉

12. Tokeloshe - August 22, 2011

Great post!

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Thanks, Tok! It felt good to share my thoughts on this growing problem. 😉

13. SuziCate - August 22, 2011

Corparations are out to make money…they don’t monitor the purchaser; it is the responsibility of a parent to feed their child healthy food and to teach them to eat healthy and make responsible choices. I hate this damn blame game…like the woman who sued Mickey D’s over the toys in the kids meal claiming the kid had to have them and he got fat…tough tootie, just say NO! Sorry for the rant. I just get so tired of society blaming everyone but themselves.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

It’s bad enough when they do it mindlessly . . .

But once the mirror is held up to them to reflect the stupidity of their actions, and they still refuse to face facts and accept responsibility, it makes me believe that “spay and neuter” is the way to go. 😉

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

A woman was arrested in Pinellas County today . . . caught trying to sell her kid for $2000 to feed her drug habit.

Convict her. Tie her tubes. Let her go.

Chad - August 22, 2011

She needs treatment for her disease.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

She needs to accept responsibility for her life and let go of the label of “victim” applied to her forehead.

No one can change her until SHE is willing to change ~ until SHE decides that SHE must learn to make better choices.

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Chad - August 22, 2011

She must be willing to change, but she also must get treatment. Addiction is a disease. It is not a choice.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

I disagree. It is first and foremost a choice . . . often arising from the abdication of responsibility for one’s own actions.

https://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/the-serenity-principle/

Chad - August 22, 2011

You can disagree. You can also say that water is dry and ice is hot. Addiction is a disease. There is a difference between the brain of an addict and other brains.

-=Chad=-

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nrhatch - August 22, 2011

People are “addicted” to cigarettes . . . yet many quit.
People are “addicted” to alcohol . . . yet many control it.
People are “addicted” to food . . . and choose to eat less.
People are “addicted” to heroin . . . and decide ENOUGH.

Those who successfully quit manage to do so because they make a conscious choice to change their life for the better.

Others (the “addicts”) listen to people who say . . . “It’s not your fault. It’s a disease. You can’t help it.”

They don’t see it as a choice they are making . . . so they keep making the wrong choice.

14. crumbl - August 22, 2011

Who has to be responsible for their lives (or their kids’ lives) anymore? There’s always someone to whom we can point the finger … let them be responsible, then we don’t have to be responsible for ourselves.

Kids do have too much a sense of entitlement and are overly indulged.

Again, Chad, you and I are of differing opinions … yeah, perhaps the woman who tried to sell her kid for crack (or whatever) needs treatment … she also needs to be locked up and the kid removed from her questionable care.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Kids who’ve been “coddled” by their parents expect us all to coddle them . . . claiming that’s the compassionate thing to do.

I disagree.

Compassion is encouraging kids (of all ages) to accept responsibility for their actions and choices. Once they understand that their actions have consequences, they’re on the road to recovery.

No longer victims of their past, they become the architects of their future.

15. Lisa (Woman Wielding Words) - August 22, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, when I was talking to the director of Evita (which Sarah was performing in) she expressed concern over the profanity that Sarah was witnessing. I explained that I was not concerned, because I talk to my child and explain things. She knows what is a good word and what isn’t, what is acting and what isn’t. I know this is a little off topic, but its not. It is about being aware of what your child is doing and being responsible enough to teach her from it. She knows that we rarely eat fast food, and then only when travelling or so busy that it is the last resort. She knows that I struggle with my weight, and that I don’t want her to have the same struggle. The problems occurred when she saw the little kids who drink coke from the age of two or so, and didn’t understand why I would not allow soda in the house. But, now the problem lies when she is out of my control and has money to burn (which happens only rarely–I keep forgetting to give her her allowance). Parenting is hard, but it doesn’t have to be with a little common sense.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Excellent points, Lisa!

Instead of complaining that others should stop using profanity around your daughter (something outside of your control), you used it as a teaching opportunity. Go you!

Instead of giving in to Sarah’s desire for soda (or more likely her desire to emulate her peers), you taught her to make more responsible choices in nutrition. Go you x 2!

Who we are NOW is a product of what we once wanted.

16. crumbl - August 22, 2011

You can be the best, most loving, caring parent in the world, Lisa … doesn’t count for spit.

LRHG and I have different philosophies about parenting, but she raised two good boys (not my sons) … both are a mystery to me … neither are “bad” kids, but honestly, I don’t get them. Nothing like their mother, who I admire and adore, nothing much like their father, who I think is a … well, suffice that anus and Preparation H come to mind, although in his case, an oral application may be indicated …

One has no ambition, one has no social skills to fulfill his ambitions. They’re good kids … challenging, but good.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Two more reasons I’m glad I don’t have kids. It’s always a crap shoot. 😉

Maybe they need to team up . . . using the social skills of the first to fulfill the ambitions of the second?

Lisa (Woman Wielding Words) - August 22, 2011

I know that it doesn’t always count for things, but I believe that is because at some point kids start becoming responsible for themselves, and parents have to let them. But, when I see children my daughter’s age who are already suffering from weight related disorders or are greedily going after the next best thing and carrying them around carelessly, then it becomes a question of parenting. All anyone can do as a parent is their best, and hope the lessons they try to teach stick. But it is the responsibility of the parents to be aware of the lessons they are trying to teach.

It is a crap shoot indeed, and someday I will have to deal with the fact that Sarah is her own person who can make her own mistakes. But for now, I’ll just try not to screw her up too badly.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Wonderful points, Lisa:

If all parents did their best and accepted the responsibility they put into play when they decided to have kids . . . oh, what a wonderful world it would be. 😀

17. Richard W Scott - August 22, 2011

Hi, Mom… sorry I ‘m late. Yes, I’ve got something to add. ))

I know where the parents are in this equation. They’re the same place the kids are. Standing around, waiting to be entertained and fed. It’s their right–just ask them. I know I’ve gotten a bit grumbly on the idea that this nation is run by the concept of “Entitlement”, but I stand by it. Frankly, I find myself pulled by it from time to time as well.

It isn’t the parent’s fault (again, just ask them). Why not? Because nobody dropped an answer into their hands when the stretched them out, palm up… and they were supposed to. Really.

Criminals are at the effect of their culture. (Just ask them)
Parents are at the effect of their parents. (Just ask them)
Businesses are at the effect of their customers. (This, I fear, is totally accurate, but it’s a two-edged sword.)

It has been suggested that who a person will be as an adult is fixed by the age of 3 or 4, and that is by mirroring the actions of the parent.

I’m not 100% on that. There are things I loved, or hated, as a child that I have different reactions to now, because I made a choice. A decision.

That, I think, is where we drop the ball. We would rather go with how it always (seems) to have been, than to put our foot down, make a decision, or choose a new course.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Hear! Hear!

People who refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions feel “rudderless” and “powerless” to steer their own ship.

And others come along and say, “That’s OK. You can’t help it. I understand. You’ve had some tough breaks in life. THEY should fix this for YOU. YOU deserve better than this.”

As far as I’m concerned, that’s just adding fuel to the fire.

Instead, we should be saying: “TODAY is where your book begins. Stand up. Roll up your sleeves. Start making better choices. The WORLD does NOT owe YOU anything.”

18. jannatwrites - August 22, 2011

Controversial topic, eh?

I can relate to much of what Lisa said.

I would agree that it is ultimately the parents’ responsibility to parent children. I can’t tell you how many times my children have countered me with “but X gets to do it.” Too bad. We don’t.

It’s not easy and we make mistakes, but we do our best to teach them responsibility and manners. It’s constant, it’s repetitive, it gets frustrating, but it is very necessary.

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

Oh, Janna . . . how much better the world would be if we had a few more parents like those who’ve commented on this thread.

Parents who see that having children is not a right . . . it is a responsibility. Parents who step up to the plate and do the best they can to teach their tots and teens to accept responsibility for their actions.

Go you! 😀

19. Patrecia aaka misswhiplash - August 23, 2011

Comment 19 , wow ! I never thought that I was coming to the end.

well I feel sure that the comments made before have already covered this subject 100% but I will just add that if any parent lets their child become obese through eating the wrong food then they should be prosecuted for Child Abuse. For that is what it is. As parents it is our job to teach our children to eat correctly , the same as we do for living our lives, and if children end up being so fat and overweight then it is the fault of the parents.
If you had a dog and it was allowed to get so much overweight that it could hardly walk I am quite sure that somebody would report to Animal Welfare that the animal was in danger and needed help.

Our care of children is more important and as parents we should and in most cases do take care of our children’s welfare

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

There are ample resources available for parents who want to learn about the nutritional needs of their children.

Instead of blaming faceless corporations for ruining society, we need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

The problem is NOT what is being advertised . . . it is that we are taking the bait. We’ve bought into the notion that happiness requires double sinks, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances.

It doesn’t.

Kids hear parents focusing on the need to acquire and they start looking for happiness “out there . . . somewhere . . . over the Rainbow Mall.”

They NEED this and they NEED that and . . .

They don’t.

Once WE THE PEOPLE become more mindful of the choices we are making, the marketing moguls will no longer be able to manipulate us into working harder to buying STUFF we don’t need to impress people we don’t even like.

Less is more . . . especially when we need to lose weight. 😉

20. Tilly Bud - August 23, 2011

I think it needs to be a joint responsibility – parents should care for (not talking about a monetary sense here) their children, but so should the society in which they live.

It is frightening to see how sexualised children are becoming, for example; and how quickly they lose their innocence. Our 9 year old niece has been asking us to explain words our own boys hadn’t heard of at the same age.

None of us operate in a vacuum: parents need support or a lot of their good work will be lost as soon as a child gets out in the real world.

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

What bothered me about Mr. Bakan’s article is that, in his conclusory paragraphs, where he talked about the impact big bad corporations are having on kids, he did NOT mention parents.

Not once.

Kids are eating the wrong thing . . . corporations are to blame.
Kids are watching too much TV . . . ditto.
Kids are playing too many video games . . . ditto.
Kids are taking too many prescription drugs . . . ditto.

He completely left the parents out of the equation ~ as if only the government/society as a whole stood between children in their battle with corporations.

That is why corporations have such an impact on society. Because WE THE PEOPLE don’t see that WE are a part of the equation.

Instead of complaining about corporate ads, turn off the TV.
Instead of saying kids are too “plugged in,” turn off the TV.

At the next PTA meeting or gathering of parents . . . suggest to other parents that they turn off the TV.

Talk to other parents about nutrition, the need for exercise, the value of fresh air and sunshine. Don’t wait for “society” to educate the masses. Start talking about the problems facing kids. Share ideas to improve the situation.

As soon as WE THE PEOPLE reclaim the reins, we will put ourselves firmly back in the driver’s seat.

Pointing fingers at the big bad corporations ruining our lives is NOT teaching kids the power of responsibility.

21. eof737 - August 23, 2011

Both are culpable; parents and the advertisers… It is a dance choreographed in hell and as the ads feed glossy images to the gullible, their children pay the price… Truly Tragic!

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

Parents have fallen asleep at the switch. They feel “powerless” and they are passing along that feeling of “powerlessness” to their offspring.

As soon as parents start exercising responsibility for themselves and their kids . . . kids will sit up and take notice.

Actions have consequences.
So does inaction.

As long as parents sit around doing nothing but complaining about the big bad corporations who are ruining their lives, the consequence will be that kids think it’s OK to wait for someone else to step in and fix the problem for them.

The abdication of responsibility for the choices we make is at the heart of the dance.

When we start making more mindful conscious decisions, the corporations will follow suit.

22. andalibmarks - August 23, 2011

Ooo, now this is fun, isn’t it?
I agree with you Nancy. On so many topics that have surfaced here on this post alone.
1. Parents are responsible for their kids. They are responsible for what goes into them and what they become later in life. If you raise a child to do what they want, when they want no matter the consequences because ‘mommy and daddy will take care of everything’ – you’re going to have an adult who sulks and who stands there holding out their hands saying ‘What about me? What about me? Who’s going to take care of me?’
2. If you can’t afford to have kids (and I don’t just mean money wise either) don’t have them. Kids need to be fed and clothed and given their shots but they also need love, guidance and they have to be taught to respect not only others but themselves as well. If you can’t respect yourself – how can you respect others?
3. Kids see what their parents do so, obviously if you (as parent) buy junk food because ‘it’s easy and convienient’ then the kids will do the same. They see you buying junk and think ‘ok, if mommy and daddy do it, I can do it too’ YOU as parent are the one to blame for your obese child. Where does the idea come from? From YOU!! Yes, they can see it on TV and everywhere else they go, but if it isn’t encouraged by you, they won’t do it.
4. As to Chad’s comment ‘…What you don’t realize is that this is not an expense, it is an investment.’ Excuse me?! I think he meant it is NOT an investment, it’s a liability. Who do you think has to fork out the cash for those obese adults to go to hospital with not only diabetes, cancer, heart problems and breathing problems but also joint problems, insomnia and migraines? Us taxpayers!
5. Kids are being raised to be whinging, complaining sissies who think of no-one and nothing but themselves because YOU (as parent) teach them to think only of themselves. Then they’re called selfish teenagers, I wonder why? ‘Make sure you’re at the front of the lunch line so you get all the good stuff, Timmy. You hear my boy? Make sure you grab that Big Mac and not the apple, ok? Good boy!’
6. We aren’t making kids realize their full potential anymore because ‘we’re satisfied with your mediocre performance (even though you can do better). We don’t want to push you.’ Um, why not? Shouldn’t we encourage kids to do their best? If the potential is an A, why settle for less? It the potential is a C, why allow an E for Algebra to be OK?

OK, I think I’ve said enough on this matter or matters, whichever way you want to see it.

PARENTS are responsible for their own kids. When we were kids and the four of us got up to some pretty naughty stuff, our parents acknowledged the fact that, yes, those four little fuckers are ours and not only will they tidy up your TP’ed lawn but they will also wash your car, mow the lawn and clean he rosebushes.
OUR actions and consequences – and we paid the price for them.

Do the kids of today pay for theirs? No, I think not.

*#*

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

Thanks, Andi. Great points. I did edit point #4 (to delete the name calling).

I think that you and Chad are on the same wave length on that issue.

He’s saying that since parents have “dropped the ball” that “those in charge” should pick it up because it will save us (the taxpayers) millions and billions of dollars in health care costs down the road.

I think that we should encourage parents to stop dropping the ball . . . and get on the ball! 😉

23. jelillie - August 23, 2011

Solomon said “He who fails to discipline his son hates him.” Thanks for the post!

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

We need more “tough love” from parents and less governmental intrusion:

Parents need to be brave enough to look their kids in the eye and say, “NO! You may NOT watch that program.”

“NO! You may NOT have another cookie, soda, bag of chips.”

“NO! You may NOT play video games on a gorgeous summer day. Go outside and play.”

24. crumbl - August 23, 2011

Just an addendum to Andi’s post, and I agreed for the most part …

I know, I’m ancient, but when I went to school, a C was barely a passing grade … 65% or above or you failed, and none of this “no kid gets left behind” crap … too bloody right you got left behind … summer school, if you were lucky, a repeated year if you weren’t.

Never had to do either, but it motivated me to try harder.

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

I believe that we do a disservice to kids who get a “trophy” at the end of the year banquet just for showing up all year ~ they learn that it’s NOT important to do their best . . . it’s OK to coast.

People argue that the trophy for every kid preserves their self esteem. I disagree. Getting rewarded for doing “nothing” doesn’t build the right kind of self esteem ~ it make them think that all they have to do to get a paycheck is to show up at the office. They become lazy and complacent.

Actions . . . consequences.

You want a trophy for being “MVP”??? . . . then bring your A game.

25. William D'Andrea - August 23, 2011

During a late afternoon, about three years ago, I was inside my rented room, when something struck my screen door. I went to the door and looked out. I heard the voices of elementary school age boys, whispering behind a large hedge, in the neighbor’s yard, across my house’s driveway.

I went back inside, and a few minutes later, the screen door was struck again. I looked out again, and heard the same boys whispering. I went back inside, and the door was struck again.

This time I went outside, and across the street, where other neighbors were working on their lawn. I also saw two elementary school age boys rapidly retreating from the hedge beside the driveway, and going around the side of their house.

I told the people working on the lawn what was going on. I said, “I don’t want to be a grouchy old man who yells at children.”

A woman who’d also been speaking with them, was carrying a baby.

She told me, “I’ll take care of that.”

The next afternoon, there was a knock on my door. I opened it, and found the man who lives in the house across the driveway standing there, with an elementary school age boy in front of him.

The man said, “My son has a message he wants to give to you.”

The boy had actually written a letter of apology in pencil, that he handed to me.

The man asked me, “Is there something you’d like to say to my son?”

I wasn’t sure what to say. I don’t want to be a grouchy old man who yells at children. I hated that when I was a child, and I’m not going to be that way now.

What I told the boy was, “I can see that you are going to grow up to be a very fine man, like your father.”

He smiled, and looked very relieved.

I think this was an example of very good parenting; and hopefully on my part, being a good neighbor.

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

Yes!!! That’s the ticket. Children misbehave. Children test boundaries. That’s all part of growing up.

When they overstep those boundaries, we need to calmly address the situation with their parents and have some degree of confidence that the parents are going to use the moment as a teaching lesson.

This father rocks!
You rock!
The boy’s apology rocks!

And you and the boy’s father increased the odds that he will indeed grow up to be a very fine man!!!

Loved it. Thanks for sharing, William!

William D'Andrea - August 23, 2011

You’re welcome Nancy. After all the negative comments I’ve read in this post, I thought we need to read something positive; and I’m sure that my neighbors aren’t the only people who deal that way with their children. There are probably millions more than we imagine.

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

Many parents are doing their best to raise fine upstanding citizens. Judging from the general tenor of comments above, the readers of SLTW fall into that camp. In that sense, we’re all preaching to the choir.

This post was never about taking pot shots at “all parents.” Mr. Bakan’s NY TIMES Op Ed article appeared a bit lopsided since he seemed to leave parents out of the parenting equation entirely ~ and instead wanted to point fingers at the Big Bad Corporations.

When parents aren’t asleep at the switch, corporations have less of a foothold in the lives of impressionable children.

26. Rosa - August 23, 2011

I’m gonna hop on the (apparent) bandwagon here and completely agree!! When did it become the responsibility of corporations to be responsible parents?! Businesses do what they can to sell us their goods. If there is something we don’t agree with, we can choose Not to buy their products. And last time I checked, we can control what our children buy, eat, and spend their time on!!!

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

Yay! Rosa’s here. 😀

Once parents reclaim the reins (and the remotes) . . . the big bad corporate wolves huffing and puffing at our doors will go away and create better products, greener products, cleaner products, more child-friendly products.

But it MUST start with the parents.

Rosa - August 23, 2011

Couldn’t agree more! As you said earlier, WE are the ones with the power! We just need to act like it…

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

For a great example of parenting in action:

http://jannatwrites.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/setting-of-a-mind/

27. Sandra Bell Kirchman - August 23, 2011

I suspect I am going to be a voice crying in the wilderness, but here goes. Well, before I go any further, let me say that I am with you guys in theory. However, let’s take a look at the practical side.

Who’s gonna educate the parents?

I’ve often said that there should be marriage course before tying the knot, and baby classes before getting preggers. I don’t mean your video online course that gives you tips, or the brief physical course on what to do when you go into labor. I mean deep, meaningful, helpful and informational courses that will actually put the seeds of another way in the minds of the parents.

Let’s face it…nearly everyone marries and raises their kids the way they were raised. One expert said on Oprah that we marry our parents, subconsciously seeking the parts of one or other of them that we felt were missing as a child.

So already we are ensconced in a role. Some people embrace the role and run with it with good results. Many, many others simply sink deeper in the mire of their marriage with no idea what to do about it. This is the atmosphere into which children are born.

When I first became a mother, my son was the first baby I had ever held in my arms. I was terrified. My son was colicky. By the time he was two or three, I had a nervous breakdown. And it wasn’t that I was not taking responsibility…I was. Too much. And it nearly killed me.

I look around and I see so many teens getting pregnant and marrying the father because “it’s the right thing to do.” Some teens rise to the occasion and do what’s expected of them. Others are bewildered and feel trapped.

None of this is calculated to make responsible parents. But who educates them? And why don’t we?

28. nrhatch - August 23, 2011

Good points, Sandra. I’m not sure that I agree with:

Let’s face it…nearly everyone marries and raises their kids the way they were raised.

My sister didn’t raise her kids the way we were raised. Neither did my brothers in many respects. I think they learned from the mistakes our parents made.

As far as education goes . . .

No one can “educate them” ~ no one saves us but ourselves. UNTIL they decide they WANT to be better parents, we can talk until we’re blue in the face and it won’t do any good.

Likewise, until WE THE PEOPLE accept responsibility for the choices we are making, we are doomed to keep making the same mistakes.

I just read a fascinating article about an obese woman (270 pounds) who finally lost the excess weight she’s been carrying around since her childhood.

What changed? She changed.

She admitted that she KNEW the right way to eat all along, but until she accepted responsibility for the choices she was making, she kept making the wrong choices.

One day, she woke up to the realization that SHE alone was responsible for her weight.

Not the big bad corporations. Not her parents. Not her peers.

And once that realization hit, she had NO PROBLEM shedding the weight. She just reminds herself that she has a choice to make every time she wants to stick something in her mouth.

Actions . . . consequences.

Once people get that, they become conscious of the choices they make and they start making better choices.

nrhatch - August 23, 2011

If you’re interested, here’s the link to the article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/22/kim-focused-on-healthy-choices-and-lost-100-pounds_n_930927.html?ncid=webmail4&ref=fb&src=sp

And a quote:

So, how did I gain the weight? Life. Eating. Not exercising. Not really caring. I knew what to do. Heck, I was born and raised on a fruit farm and was blessed with being exposed to plenty of fruits and vegetables, and the knowledge of their health benefits, from an early age. I even work in an industry that includes many organizations, associations and governmental groups that tout the benefits of healthy diets, exercise and a well-rounded, balanced lifestyle. But I didn’t practice what I preached. I ate the right foods, but I ate a lot of them. I “treated” myself too much. I walked when I could, but I didn’t sweat it — literally or figuratively.

Looking back, I realize that I was irresponsible and mistreating my body. I was not giving myself the respect and care that I now know I deserve.

NOW: That doesn’t mean that I don’t eat ice cream or cake. Because I do. I am a firm believer that we are meant to enjoy food — we don’t have tastebuds for nothing. And I also believe that most foods are OK in moderation. I eat the foods I enjoy. And I enjoy the foods I eat. I indulge now and again. But I do it in a healthy way that works with my body, not against it. Besides, a life without good cheese or good ice cream is not a life I want to live.

When we do not feel responsible for where we are in life, we act irresponsibly . . . compounding earlier mistakes we’ve made.

The minute we accept responsibility for our life . . . we start making better choices.

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We alone must walk the path.

29. Sandra Bell Kirchman - August 24, 2011

Actually, I 100% agree with you that we are responsible for ourselves, our own lives and our own choices. I don’t believe that is part of my argument, so I must not have presented it very well.

I also agree that you can talk to someone until you’re blue in the face, but until they decide they want to change, they won’t. And sometimes they have to be more uncomfortable than they are uncomfortable in order to make that change.

My point is…auto mechanics, for instance, get far more training, and more training is available to them than there ever is on either marriage or raising children. You don’t hear anyone say, “I’m majoring in marriage, with a minor in raising children.”

That’s because society figures that the parents, or primary caregivers, will provide that education. But many parents are not equipped to do this. Is this the children’s fault? No.

So I believe our educational system should provide this information as an educational service. And I’m not talking about night classes. I’m talking about getting the training while a youngster in school, when their minds are most impressionable.

When I was a young mother and had never held a baby in my arms before my son came along, it would have been ever so helpful to have known how to dress a baby properly for heat and for cold, or know how to bathe a baby without being terrified of breaking him, and so on.

My mother had the exact same fears when I was born. I think I must have picked them up on a subconscious level. Education would have dispelled those fears. I realize trying to implement this education would open a whole can of worms but I still don’t see why anyone can get more education on just about any career or hobby and not get that much help, except for maybe self-help magazines, on two subjects that are (or should be) of major importance in our lives.

However, knowing that this is probably not a popular cause to espouse, I’ll just say I wish it were otherwise, and agree to disagree with you on some points, Nancy. I do appreciate your long and carefully worded reply to help me better understand your point of view.

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

I did misunderstand you, Sandra. 😉

I fully agree that we should offer parenting classes . . . and marriage classes too . . . to people who want to learn to be better parents and spouses.

BUT, unless attendance is mandatory for all, the people who really NEED the classes won’t attend . . . and the people who attend the classes probably are just there to get an easy “A.”

And, since I do not believe that we should be socialized to be “breeders” (any more than we already are), I’m not convinced that parenting classes should be mandatory for ALL high schoolers.

Any more than automotive classes should be mandatory for ALL high schoolers.

Bottom line: whenever and wherever the classes are offered . . . the ONLY ones who will get anything out of the classes are those who WANT to learn because they have accepted responsibility for the choices they make in life.

So . . . that’s what I think we need to teach people. How to be responsible and mindful of the choices we make.

30. adeeyoyo - August 24, 2011

I haven’t read all the comments, Nancy, but I feel the obesity issue is a reflection of the greed rife in other areas of society…

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

I agree. We are beginning to look on the outside the way we’ve been raised on the inside . . . to be gluttonous consumers. 😦

31. Team Oyeniyi - August 24, 2011

I’m very late to the party, but I agree. I’m in the midst of sending kids to bed and ensuring a 13 year old unmarries himself on Facebook.

We have huge discussions about sugar and junk food is not allowed in our house except at very special times.

I just turned the other computer off! That solved the Facebook problem.

I haven’t read the discussion above, but I see from your next post it may have reached dizzy heights. Debate is always interesting!

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

When I hear parents parenting their children . . . it gives me a warm glow inside:

* No. We are not going to have junk food in the house.
* No. It’s time for bed. Turn the computer off!

You rock!!! 😀

Team Oyeniyi - August 25, 2011

I was told “that wasn’t cool”. I said my job isn’t to be “cool”, my job is to be a mother! I also said I do not care what other kid’s mothers do because some parents are stupid!

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

I don’t care what THEY say . . . you are COOL! 😎

32. Linda - August 24, 2011

I am just now reading a new book called, Taming Our Outer Child. Ha lots of that needs to be done!

And just imagine being a grandmother. Hmmm I am always getting in trouble there. I said something about my grandson acting like the class clown the other day at the swim lessons. That didn’t go over well with DIL. I still held my positon. I hate to say it but he is getting away with too much, unless he is with me. We have a great time together, act silly, try new things and have so much fun but I will not put up with bad behaviour. I won’t use hot sauce though like that horrilbe woman who was just convicted of child abuse. That’s just plain torture. That child needed some kind of help that he wasn’t getting. He has been through an awful lot so for her to treat him like that was beyond stupid.

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

I know just what you mean. Children benefit from clear ground rules so that they learn at a young age that actions have consequences:

* If you don’t eat your veggies . . . I will NOT take you to the zoo.
* If you don’t clean up your toys . . . I will NOT read you a story.

I didn’t read the article . . . just the head-line. Obviously, someone else who would benefit from having her tubes tied.

33. Jean - August 24, 2011

I have long advocated for procreation licensing and yearly parent certification courses tied to the child tax deduction. You get benefits if you wait to procreate and have met certain criteria, like a job, an appropriate age and stable housing. To continue to get the child tax credit, you take a course every year age appropriate to the child you want the tax break for. None of this is mandatory, but it would incentivize people to do the right thing. I would have no problem taking a parenting course every year to learn good techniques for child rearing. It could be run like the drivers license beaureau. Take a test and get your certification free or for a nominal fee. Then you get reduced insurance rates or better home loan rates or a break on your taxes. It won’t solve all the problems, but it would be a start to educate parents and perhaps in a generation we would reap the results in a kinder, healthier and stable population.

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

That’s a great idea . . . for parents who are also taxpayers. No tax break without re-certification. Excellent!

Sadly, many of the worst parents don’t have jobs so they don’t need a tax deduction. In their case, it could be tied to the benefits they receive. No welfare check or aid to families with dependent children without certification that you are fit to be a parent.

People would balk at the transition from unlicensed parenting to licensed parenting . . . but if we have to be licensed to drive a car for a few hours a week, why shouldn’t parents have to be licensed to have a kid?

Thanks for a great comment! 😀

Sandra Bell Kirchman - August 24, 2011

Oh my, Jean, that is a wonderful idea. It solves all the problems and fills in the holes of my idea on this.

nrhatch - August 24, 2011

Your comment got me thinking more about the idea.

Instead of going to the dreaded DMV . . . parents would be taking numbers and waiting for their exams at the DPL (Department of Parental Licensing).

Instead of being pulled over for speeding, or a broken tail light, and being asked to produce license and registration, parents would be “pulled over” in the grocery store for screaming toddlers and asked to produce their license to procreate and child registration.

It might be a logistical nightmare.
It might still be an idea whose time has come.

34. William D'Andrea - August 25, 2011

This is a terrifying idea. The idea that Government bureaucrats would be ruling the family, and that they’d be the ones who set the standards for who’s fit to raise children, is deeply troubling. That would be tyranny.

While child abuse should be dealt with through legal means. Other than that, Government Official should raise only their own children, and stay out of everyone else’s home, and all of our lives.

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

Thanks, William.

That’s why the original article bothered me so much ~ because Mr. Bakan was asking “the government” to step in and set up guidelines to protect children from big bad corporations when the far easier fix would be for parents to just be better parents.

As I said in response to Comment #23:

We need more “tough love” from parents and less governmental intrusion:

Parents need to be brave enough to look their kids in the eye and say, “NO! You may NOT watch that program.”

“NO! You may NOT have another cookie, soda, bag of chips.”

“NO! You may NOT play video games on a gorgeous summer day. Go outside and play.”

Team Oyeniyi - August 25, 2011

Agree!!

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

Thanks for being a proper parent to your kids! 😀

35. Todd Parker - August 25, 2011

The wise eagle sees the truth in both sides, and carries his prize above the fray in the sunlight.

Chad’s Older Brother

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

You are a wise eagle, indeed! 😀

Todd Parker - August 25, 2011

Do you remember The Devil? I mean, not the pseudo-mythological creature with certain attributes of Medieval Europe, but the mysterious being that Jesus in the New Testament simply referred to as ‘the Evil One’?

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

Why do you ask?

Todd Parker - August 25, 2011

Well, whether you believe in it/him or not as a reality, it/he (I’ll use ‘it’ here) provides a useful tool to see the issue in a new light. You and my brother have been arguing about choice as a matter of responsibility and freedom, but that’s not really true to life – in either of your views. As many (most if not all) people experience it, choice, especially regarding things that fall under the ‘ethics’ heading, feels more like a battle against hostile forces than a calculation based on a combination of external factors and internal values. The whole moral world occurs precisely because we ‘see’ the right thing to do, but just can’t bring ourselves to do it. I am not concerned here with whether that perceived ‘Enemy’ is a real, supernatural force or a mask for our own internal weaknesses, prejudices, and base impulses. The fact is, when we make a choice, we are fighting a battle, not choosing a fork in the road or picking an item from a menu.

Now, because you and my brother are both reasonable people, you agreed that people are the result of BOTH the sum of their life choices, which they can (at least to some extent) control, and external forces over which we have no control. But I think you both missed what is really a helpful way of understanding precisely what the relationship between those two things is.

The lessons learned from one’s parents – and, even more subtly, whether those lessons were intended by your parents or not – the social norms through which one perceives the world, the economic and social opportunities one’s position provides, the psychological conditions created by all of this as it acts upon one’s peculiar brain chemistry and genetics; all of these make up the terrain on which we fight the battles of choice every day. That terrain can be advantageous, or it can be disadvantageous.

And there is the heart of the matter. It is not up to us to decide how well, or even whether, other people fight their battles. It’s not that it’s wrong for us to interfere in it; it’s that it’s impossible. We can’t reach that deeply into them, and we would only destroy or damage them by trying. In that regard, your position is correct: the responsibility is on each of us, as an individual, to fight as best as we can.

But we can change the ground on which they fight; we can give other people a better chance; or we can make it harder for them. We can do it by example, by teaching, by encouraging, or by changing society – from the ground up OR the top down – for the better. And in that regard, my brother’s position is correct: we do not exist in a vacuum, and we do affect the lives of others, whether we want to or not.

Seen in that light, the right way is fairly clear: each of us must fight hard to make the best choices of which we are capable, however hard or easy it is, and while we are doing that, we must also do anything in our power to make it easier for other people to make the best choices available to them. So, the question as regards your original topic of responsible parenting becomes a practical one rather than a theoretical one. Specifically, what kind of society would help individual parents the most to make the right choices regarding their children?

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

Wonderful points, Todd.

But the choices in Mr. Bakan’s article (that sparked this debate) aren’t really moral dilemmas.

As I said above (Comment #20):

What bothered me about Mr. Bakan’s article is that, in his conclusory paragraphs, where he talked about the impact big bad corporations are having on kids, he did NOT mention parents.

Not once.

Kids are eating the wrong thing . . . corporations are to blame.
Kids are watching too much TV . . . ditto.
Kids are playing too many video games . . . ditto.
Kids are taking too many prescription drugs . . . ditto.

He completely left the parents out of the equation ~ as if only the government/society as a whole stood between children in their battle with corporations.

That is why corporations have such an impact on society. Because WE THE PEOPLE don’t see that WE are a part of the equation.

Instead of complaining about corporate ads, turn off the TV.
Instead of saying kids are too “plugged in,” turn off the TV.

At the next PTA meeting or gathering of parents . . . suggest to other parents that they turn off the TV.

Talk to other parents about nutrition, the need for exercise, the value of fresh air and sunshine. Don’t wait for “society” to educate the masses. Start talking about the problems facing kids. Share ideas to improve the situation.

As soon as WE THE PEOPLE reclaim the reins, we will put ourselves firmly back in the driver’s seat.

Pointing fingers at the big bad corporations ruining our lives is NOT teaching kids the power of responsibility.

That’s the playing field that sparked the discussion . . . whether or not Mr. Bakan had left the most important part of the equation out of the equation in his effort to lay the blame at the door of the big bad corporations.

Kids emulate their parents. Monkey see. Monkey do.

When they see their parents making ethical decisions and acting with integrity . . . they emulate their lead.

When they see their parents pointing the figure at everyone but the person in the mirror . . . they emulate that lack of responsibility.

If we want kids to grow up to be responsible adults, we must encourage their parents to act responsibly.

So, that’s what I think we need to teach people. How to be responsible and mindful of the choices we make.

Not just the tough moral choices . . . the every day mundane choices like what to serve for dinner and what TV shows to let kids watch.

Todd Parker - August 25, 2011

Quite so. But, do remember to consider: the ‘Big Bad Corporations’ have an omnipresent, unified, and incessant voice in our society, whereas the proponents of individual responsibility do not – except on those occasions when the people representing the BBC’s can use them as a weapon. If we want to have our message heard, we must either find a way to shout over the din, or else find a way to silence it.

Actions, of course, do speak louder than words, and they’re an excellent place to start; but if you (generic ‘you’ – I’m not accusing you of anything) act (or speak) contemptuously toward or about people who have not made choices as consistently well as you, then the only thing your actions will say is ‘Responsibility is just a word that jerks use to excuse their arrogance’. The old proverb about teaching a man to fish is as true now as it ever was; but all too often today, successful people merely shout ‘Get a job!’ from their pickups as they drive by, and that’s even less helpful than giving a fish. ‘ n ‘

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

Since starting this blog in February 2010, I’ve written numerous posts about the big bad corporations and their evil CEO’s and the lobbyists in Washington who do their bidding, etc. The corporations in this country are “out of control” and have “too much control.” We can do better.

But this post was sparked when I read the NY TIMES Op Ed article by Mr. Bakan. He completely left parents out the equation when talking about childhood obesity, etc. That omission troubled me as a sign of the times and one reason why corporations have so much power in the first place . . . because we abdicated responsibility. We fell asleep at the switch. We felt that a paternalistic government would look out for our interests. It hasn’t.

Once the post went up, it sparked additional debate on tangential issues. In that respect, blogging is like a box of chocolates . . . you never know what you’re going to get. And you never really make it to the bottom of the well ~ there are always additional avenues to explore. Sometimes we must leave them for another day.

I agree with you completely about shouting “GET A JOB!” at a specific individual. When dealing with individuals, we must take them as and where they are. In contrast, when looking at an amorphous group of people (such as the looters in England), suggesting on a blog post (that they will NEVER read), that they GET A JOB (rather than kicking in store windows to take what they want) seems “fair commentary” to me. 😀

Thanks for weighing in on this, Todd.

Todd Parker - August 25, 2011

My pleasure. I’ll do so again sometime. Have a nice night.

36. Paula Tohline Calhoun - August 25, 2011

I’m still itching to put my “stamp” on this discussion. . .very swollen arm says “No, Paula. Shut up! The world doesn’t turn on your own inspiring words.” Besides, the comments have been very interesting – conflicting sometimes on the surface, but ultimately in tune with each other. Parents need guidance. The best parental guidance counselors are good parents. Good parents are made, not born. Parenting our environment – human and otherwise is everyone’s responsibility. . .there I go. . .oh well. That’s enough. . .

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

Wonderful points, PTC!

And do, please, listen to your very swollen arm as it encourages you to be circumspect with your typing.

37. Paula Tohline Calhoun - August 25, 2011

This scene just came to mind. . .enjoy!

nrhatch - August 25, 2011

Good clip, Paula. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if ALL PARENTS wanted to be good parents?

That desire would cause them to compare notes, and develop strategies, and be positive role models for the kids they raised.


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