Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Parental "No" Files: My Kids Edition

(Not actually my kids' camp's "canteen")
Last week two of my kids attended camp at a local community center.

As part of their camp life, each and every day my kids' respective groups of 5 and 8 year olds were purposely paraded by the community center's "canteen" and were encouraged/allowed to buy themselves some junk food.  And each and every day my kids watched as their friends bought potato chips, candy, and chocolate bars.

We let them buy something on the last day - something we undoubtedly never would have done had their camp experience not purposely included planned junk food breaks and had they not been made to feel left out of the sugar on a daily basis.

The whole thing made me sad.  It made me sad that the camp was teaching young children that junk food is a normal part of everyday life; it made me sad that the camp was clearly choosing the community centre's profits over the kids' health; and it made me sad that my kids were made to feel left out because my wife and I don't think our 5 and 8 year olds need to eat junk food on a daily basis.

But clearly we could (and for the most part did) just say, "No".  But do our "Nos" excuse or indemnify the community center for literally pushing junk food on extremely little children day in and day out?

When looking at the societal overconsumption of empty calories by our children do you really want to hold onto the notion that it's consequent to an insufficient quantity of parental nos?  Using my kids' experiences as an example - shouldn't we be striving as a society to ensure that the default changes such that if parents and kids want to consume daily junk food they need to consciously choose to go out of their way to do so rather than have the default be a community center camp parade kids as young as 5 in front of a daily junk food salad bar?