This past week an article came across my desk, or should I say my computer screen, chronicling the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) intent to sue McDonalds over their Happy Meal Program. At first glance, I assumed that the suit would be based on a faulty toy that was directly related to the death of a child or children. However, to my surprise, the CSPI’s claim is that the lure of the Happy Meal, and its accompanying toy, is putting parents in the untenable position of saying no to their children. How dare they! The article goes further to discuss childhood obesity, which is a serious problem, and attempts, through innuendo, to make the link that the McDonalds program and overweight children are somehow inextricably linked.
Everyone certainly recognizes the pressures that parents face raising children, but where do you draw the line between the ownership of responsibilities—that of parents and those of others. Saying no is part of the playbook that parents own. It extends from not playing with matches to not accepting candy from strangers, to a whole host of other forbidden activities. Is the Happy Meal the straw that broke the camel’s back for parents, simply one more no that they could not utter?
In addition to having parents abdicate responsibility for their children’s well-being, attributing blame to others, the CSPI is preparing to take their fight to the legal arena. As Michael Jacobson, executive director for the CSPI, stated, “We have found that companies only really negotiate if they are threatened with a lawsuit or actually sued.” Weighing in as a non-lawyer, I think this is simply ridiculous. My view on this issue, however, may be easily countered by an eloquent argument from the attorney representing the CSPI, the same legal counsel who may be representing McDonalds or some other corporation next week.
Parents, own the responsibility, as you have since the birth of your child—don’t let anyone else assume that on your behalf!
Ryck Marciniak (guest blogger)