How to be a terrible parent

Immoral parenting.

Interesting subject, no?

Now that there is so much parenting advice out there, if you don't do all 50 million things, then you're basically screwed.

Thankfully (for both my and any as yet unconceived children of mine), I am not a parent. I'm a mommy to my kitty, but that doesn't involve nighttime feedings, diaper changes, or pregnancy, so it's not quite the same.

Given the subject of my blog, I'm most concerned about how parents are judged on how they feed their children. I went to McDonald's, ordered a Happy Meal (Chicken Nuggets every time), drank juice at will, ate cookies regularly, had some sort of sweet almost every day, etc, etc. Today, this would make my mom a bad parent.

"Shame on you! You don't make your children exercise! You let them eat fast food! You let them drink juice! And pop!*"

Yet I never turned into an unhealthy person because of it. My health only seriously declined when I did the opposite of those things. As for my brother, well, let's just not go there. But his problems weren't related to what my mom fed us, either.

There was a commercial on for one of those cash advance companies and their ploy this time was, "You want to see super plays at Little League, not supersized fries."

I have nothing against Little League. I also have nothing against fries. They're trying to make a mom or dad feel guilty that they feed their children fries so they pay this huuuuuuuuuuuge fee to have time to get a "nutritious" meal and make it to a baseball game. In the long run, a fry is a fry. They're not immoral, nor are the people who eat them. I love fries, especially if you toss them in that powdered ranch dressing mix. I'm a fairly moral person. I don't cheat or steal. I always wear a seat belt. I at least try to be courteous. I meet deadlines. These were not things I learned from abstaining from fries for almost 7 years.

Not feeding your children- that's immoral. Or only feeding your children celery sticks. The line between immoral and harmful is vague. However, if you happen to have DNA that puts your children outside of the charts, you're hurting your child, and if you don't put them on a strict diet and exercise plan, you're destroying their health for the future.

People say the US has all of this horrible health. Yet infant mortality is low, we have a long life expectancy, deaths from infectious diseases are on the decline. Most people who die of heart disease have low cholesterol, and weight really isn't correlated either. Countries in Africa where food supplies are low and/or unstable, that's where you see problems. Having too little food is always always worse than having too much. So many products ::cough cough Alli cough cough:: are targeted at the 'overweight,' who actually have the lowest death rates. And if you're the parent of an 'overweight' child, you must have done something wrong.

The old saying is that "You are what you eat." So if carrot sticks are held up as this sort of Gold Standard of foods (or broccoli, or blueberries, or whatever) on both a nutritional and moral level, if you don't eat tons and tons of them, you're not only unhealthy, but you're a bad person. I don't vet this. Hitler was a vegetarian.

So let's have separation of church and state, body and business, and food and morality.

POST-NOTE: You're telling me Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN is a freakin' brain surgeon! Ha! Check out this chilling California ad campaign. It makes me sick!

*Where pop=soda. It's a Michigan thing. I ordered pop when I was in Atlanta and they gave me fries. I'm still scratching my head at that one.

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Harriet Brown said...

It's true--as parents who are tuned in to the *real* health issues around food we often find ourselves bucking the mainstream when it comes to attitudes around food and eating. It's a disorienting feeling in many ways.

Lady Gray said...

I raised four children. There was one summer (in New Mexico) that was a real scorcher. Nobody felt like eating anything. So I took my children to the store, and we bought bananas, ice cream, topping, and real whipped cream (the kind that comes out of the can). We went home and made some gorgeous banana splits, with everyone putting their own together. Sure, there was some extra sugar in there, but it was mostly dairy and fruit, and was a lot of fun to do. Everyone went from being grouchy to being mellow. And that is something that is not mentioned in many of these nutrition stories, that stress can hurt you more than anything else. My advice is: Don't listen to so much advice from people. Use common sense. Don't go overboard with anything, either good or bad. Enjoy life.

disordered girl said...

So true--food itself is not the enemy! Teaching kids to associate "good" and "bad" with food is what starts the downwards spiral. Using food as a reward or punishment is so dangerous, as is this new cultural trend. Unless we can view food as just fuel and nothing else, I don't know how kids can win these days!

Faith said...

Growing up in my house, everything my sister and I ate was weighed/measured. Everything. Cereal, OJ, chicken breast, etc. No surprise both of us had a secret stash of food and developed eating disorders fairly early on. Neither of us knew about the other until we were in our 30s! Such great secret keepers!

Andee said...

Actually, Hitler wasn't a vegetarian, according to this article, which states that Hitler would go on "vegetarian fasts" from time to time for certain health conditions but was a meat-eater for the most part.

Otherwise, nice post.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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