Childhood as we know it, well, I fear it’s disappearing very quickly for our kids and it’s not their fault. I fear the helicopter parents are at fault here, continuously trying to protect their children from everything and anything without allowing them to learn for themselves.
You may recall I wrote recently about kids homework and how I fear it’s taking away the opportunity for kids to be kids.
Well, I’m going to expand on that opinion about kids being kids with specific reference to kids birthday parties and fast food.
A little while ago I came across a discussion where a mother felt she was in somewhat of a predicament. Her family NEVER ate at McDonalds or Hungry Jacks and that’s fair enough, but, shock horror, her child had been invited to a birthday party at McDonalds. And you guessed it, she wasn’t too happy about her daughter attending OR eating the food. She was so concerned about what she would do if her daughter constantly starting bugging her to have McDonalds if she were to let her attend the party. The mother also considered taking their own food to the McDonalds party.
“Am I being over the top?” the mother asked. Well yes, yes you are dear.
Talk about FUN POLICE! This mother, so tied up with the idea that McDonalds is SO BAD, would rather put her own child through social awkwardness having to sit there eating homemade sandwiches while the other kids enjoy happy meals or McDonalds food? Or her child missing out on the fun altogether knowing that all of her friends were able to attend? What is worse here, a one-off burger and fries or experiencing a childhood?
To me, this situation is purely about the mother’s agenda with absolutely no consideration for the child’s perspective, how they might feel or what they might miss out on. What is the worse thing that could happen if the child were to attend and eat a burger and fries, the only burger and fries she may eat in a year?
When I flick back through my childhood photos, there are heaps of me attending McDonalds and Hungry Jacks parties. Attending a party like this was cool, it was fun and they were definitely some of my fondest childhood memories. Well, apart from the party where I unwrapped my present amongst my circle of primary school aged friends only to find a pair of pink undies and singlet. The boys laughed and I was just a little embarrassed by that.
I think the point that has been missed in this situation is the teaching part of having kids, the part where they learn instead of being shielded. The importance of teaching kids about making the right food choices, explaining that McDonalds is ‘sometimes’ food that is eaten as an ‘every now and then’ treat. The same goes with traditional party foods. I really think children are smart enough to understand this and appreciate it when it’s a treat they’ve been allowed to have. It also comes back to my thoughts on ‘everything in moderation’ when it comes to food. I expand on this and ‘sometimes’ foods in my article The Lunchbox Obsession: Why We Need To Stop.
I really do feel as though some parents these days are going WAY overboard. As much as it isn’t my business to say what other parents should and shouldn’t do, in the end, our kids are the next generation to take over the world, to run the country, to look after us old folks, so it’d be good to know they are well-balanced adults that experienced a childhood. So much can be learned from childhood, it has a huge impact on children’s future selves.
Do you think that sometimes things are taken a little too far when it comes to protecting our kids?