The Dreaded 'M' Question
On Saturday my wonderful mother in law had agreed to look after Arjun in the afternoon for a few hours so I could get some extra sleep in and do some work. I was extremely grateful for this. However, when she came to pick him she asked me a question I have been dreading and avoiding “is it ok if I give him MacDonald’s for dinner?”…..NOOOOOOOOO!!! My mind, heart and body screamed. Both in response to this question but also I just did not want to be asked. I am not ready for this battle yet.
Arjun is 21months old and thus so far he has never eaten takeaways in his life. My husband and I do not eat them – I am dead-set against them. Not only for their sever lack of nutrients and high toxic load that such foods place on the body but for a much bigger reason. I believe that takeaways are destroying an integral part of family life. That they provide an easy out which does not encourage habits to form around planning, preparing and cooking food. Children brought up on a large amount of takeaways not only suffer the associated health risks with foods high in saturated fat, sugar and overall calories but also from a lack of knowledge and respect around food.
What breaks my heart with this the most is that children HAVE NO SAY. They have no voice here. My son, certainly will not ask for this food and so I do not believe it is fair to give him this yet. Fast-food chains like MacDonald’s exist due to customer demand – and I do really get that putting dinner on the table each night with demanding children is a challenge but we live in this amazing country with fresh meat, fish, vegetables and stables readily available at a supermarket a few minutes away. We do not even need to fillet or cut meat/fish it comes in a super easy pre-cut package for us. Even if it is just our little family that takes a stand against such giant corporations it is a start – and it is the ONLY way such companies will be brought to their knees.
My husband is creating a charity event called ‘My Daddy is My Hero’ to celebrate fathers who are often the unsung heroes of the modern parenting era. The event will consist of Dads from emergency services coming together celebrating everyday Daddy hero’s (Fireman, Policeman and Ambulance services) in support of the charity KidsCan.
He was offered a large amount of sponsorship on Wednesday for this event from MacDonald’s. This was going to be the difference between his project lifting off the ground or struggling to get started – HE TURNED THEM DOWN!!!!! He said that he could not accept their support due to what we have created as a family both with our business and what we are up to changing in the world. By the way I could not have been more proud of my husband when he told me this. Apparently in the meeting the representative from MacDonald’s (who smoked heavily and was morbidly obese) could not believe he got turned down (I guess it does not happen very much) and in response was very rude to my husband. This only showed to us MacDonald’s was not really going to be involved for the cause at hand. My husband has since found another way to get his project off the ground but this is a story for another time.
You can imagine my internal dilemma when my mother in law asked me this. My immediate response was – well he has never had it so preferably not. And then I thought about what she was doing for me, and how harsh I must have sounded – and felt terrible. I know it is not life and death but I was faced with very real moral challenge. I wondered how long can I protect my son from this for? Is it really worth the fight with my mother in law – I really do not want to upset her or offend her as she is really helping us out. Will she take him anyway without my permission? How can I do what I do and allow her to take him to MacDonald’s?…..ahhhhhhh. How can I explain this internal battle of mine to her? We had beautiful slow-cooked lamb and vegetables set aside for Arjun from last night’s dinner so I really saw no need for him to have MacDonald’s out but the look on her face when I said no….So then I said to her well maybe that is ok and internally prayed he would not eat very much….. when she left I instantly regretted saying this. At the time I wished I could have spoken to my husband who is always the mediator between us (especially as some things are best explained not in English) but he was asleep after a long night-shift. I just prayed he woke up soon and I could talk to him and he could talk to his mum before she took him a bit later…which is what ended up happening – he explained about our business and philosophy, though I still worried that she was upset about it. In the end she did not take Arjun and he had a good dinner at home. I did apologise to her and did my best to explain the reason why. As a parent we are often faced with choices between what is ideal and what is practical with children, you can only do what feels right at the time.
What would you do…..? What choices have you made for your children around takeaways? I would love to know you feedback (and I also accept not everyone will share my hard view on this.)
xx Dr Julie