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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Meet the Bad Parents

San Fransisco has recently voted to ban happy meals. The mayor vetoed it, or didn't and it's going in the books anyway, I am not really sure. But none of that matters. What matters is the fact that a city council, who probably should have zero ability to regulate international companies, have taken it upon themselves to fight the obesity epidemic. And it is an epidemic. The CDC is worried that this might be the first generation since WW2 to have a shorter life expectancy than the previous generation. That might solve the social security problem but at too great of a cost.

What is not addressed is the epidemic of bad parenting affecting our nation. Let's think through this. We're saying that a toy no longer being available will stop children from eating fast food. The only problem with this assumption is that kids don't choose where they eat. I will make the bold proclamation that there are no 6 year old who would ever be deemed discerning customers. They eat at whatever joint their parents park them in. Toy or no toy, they will still be at McDonalds because San Fransisco did not legislate good parenting. Perhaps instead of the happy meal, they'll order a Big Mac and really up the childhood obesity insanity.

The problem is you can't legislate good parenting. In tort law, it has long been held negligence resulting from poor child supervision is not actionable against the parents. Agree with it or not, bad parenting is at the root of most of the problems facing kids. The two teenagers who executed the Columbine HS massacre were building pipe bombs in their garage. Bad parenting, not Marilyn Manson, was to blame. I don't necessarily disagree with making food healthier but it needs to account for the fact children never choose what they eat.

Now I am not a parent to the best of my knowledge. I'm sure it is significantly harder than it looks. My oldest sister has three kids all of whom are in shape, smart, and generally respectful of other people. She literally does nothing special, she simply pays attention to their daily lives. Now, that might be special at this point given our terribly narcissistic generation of parents who are more interested in Farmville than Old McDonald had a farm, but it's true. While the intent of the SF law is good, because we do in fact need to do something about just how fat our kids are becoming, because it ignores the principle reason for obesity, mainly parental neglect, it will fall short of its ambitions. In the mean time, let the kids have their toys, playing with them is probably the only cardio they're going to get.

1 comment:

  1. There are two tragedies here. The first is the displacement of blame on the objects over parenting. It's the exact reason No Child Left Behind was a miserable failure.

    The second tragedy is that this is not bigger news. Gavin Newsome in the limelight is what everyone wants. The man has terrific hair, and yet there is not enough national attention for us to see this mane (note to Legalized Pundit - that's how you spell mane when referring to one's hair).