Monday, September 25, 2006

Lunch is Served

I really shouldn't read news articles. They only get me riled up. Readers will have noticed that several of my posts have been born out of news articles. It's hard not to read them when they're scrolling past me on my browser home page, though.

This time the article itself is just the final straw. The camel's back is well and truly broken. You see, specifically, it's bad parents that have drawn my ire. For a while now I have been convinced that if time travel were possible then the most moral use for it would be to go back and sterilise the Mothers and Fathers of certain unlucky children. There are some people that should simply not be allowed to breed.

Television is full of shining examples. Programmes such a Super Nanny and The House of Tiny Tearaways display an incredible level of stupidity on the part of the parents. The children are in complete control, demanding anything they please and doing what they want, when they want. The parents, instead of chastising their little ones and encouraging them into decent behaviour, acquiesce to their demands at every step.

What's wrong with them? They feed their children nothing but yogurts at mealtimes because the children 'don't like anything else.' Excuse me? If one my our two little darlings ever refused to eat the meal they had been served, they were given a simple choice: eat it or eat nothing. Of course they choose nothing the first time. Fine. No problem. They're not going to suffer malnutrition after skipping one meal. Simply remind them why they're so hungry when they wolf down their breakfast the next morning. Then when the next evening meal comes along, remind them of the choice they made the night before. Rarely will a child make that mistake twice.

We have two beautiful children who are happy, healthy and enjoy trying new and exciting foods. They are vegetarian (one by his own choice, the other is too young to know what's on the end of her fork) and they have a list of foods they dislike that could be counted on one hand. No damage has been done and televised counselling has been avoided.

Of course, it's not just food. The bad parenting that is being so excruciatingly performed for our viewing please includes hopeless bedtimes where the parents are forced to lie with the children for hours on end, children who swear, self-harm to get attention and attack other children and adults alike when they don't get their way. All these things are so simple to get right. If your child misbehaves, remove them from the situation, explain to them that what they have done is wrong and will not be tolerated, then find a suitable punishment. I'm not talking about smacking, which is wrong, just common sense. Using a naughty step or naughty corner works wonders.

The most important thing is to explain the situation to the child. Even very young children can understand what you are saying to them, even if they can't communicate back yet. Get down to the child's level and try to get them to understand the feelings of other people involved. Don't shout or get angry, just firm and no-nonsense.

Anyway, I'm not trying to write a parenting book here; I'm just trying to illustrate how easy it is to bring up a child. Why so many parents can't manage it is beyond me. It's just common sense.

The article that triggered this post is about the publishing of a leaflet for parents who make packed lunches for their children to take to school. It seems that there are so many parents sending their kids off with crisps, soft drinks and chocolate that the government feels it needs to step in and give advice. How can parents think that it's acceptable for their children to eat junk for lunch? What kind of message is this giving them about health and the kinds of things they should eat as they grow up? No wonder obesity is such a growing problem.

The bit that most worries me is that they want to provide more cooked meals in schools because it will be "the only hot meal they get to eat in a day." What do they have when they get home then? Nothing? Some cold chips and a slice of bread? Are we the only family left in the country who eat a proper family meal each evening where we all eat the same?

It's the same story with breakfast. Apparently an enormous number of children skip breakfast each morning. How? Do they sneak out while their parents aren't looking? We have provided breakfast for our children every single morning of their lives. When they're old enough to pour more milk over their cereal than the floor they will be encouraged to make their own breakfast. But having none at all, well, that's just stupid. After a good night's sleep, one of the first things the body needs is nourishment. It's the most important meal of the day, after all.

So, these children we keep hearing about skip breakfast, snack on rubbish on the way to school, eat rubbish for lunch, snack on more rubbish on the way home and finally get served cold rubbish for their evening meal. Unbelievable. The parents should be shot.

Anyway, I think I've ranted enough for now. Just know that if I ever build a flux capacitor and wire it into a DeLorean there will be a sudden unexplained rash of vasectomies appearing across the country.

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