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It seems most people believe the entire responsibility for eating habits falls on the individual child and the parents, not the marketers of junk food. Yet when it comes to alcohol, most seem to favor calling police on a bar that serves kids who are underage. Why do people take up the cry for individual responsibility for the former and not the latter?
You aren’t comparing apples to apples, but let’s dive in anyway.
Junk food is legal for children of all ages. In moderation, as part of an overall healthy diet, junk food isn’t too dangerous. I like to stay in shape, but I indulge in a bag of Cheetos now and then. I also exercise regularly and eat lots of salad, so I see little harm in having Cheetos or some cookies with lunch. My high-metabolism sons eat junk food – in moderation – and do just fine.
Parents can purchase junk food if they like, or they can choose healthier options. Nobody is making the parents fill their pantries with Frosted Flakes, and nobody is breaking the law. If parents serve their kids chips and donuts and Pepsi constantly, and the kids get fat, those parents can find the chief cause of the problem in the mirror. As for the kids, the older they are, the more responsibility they bear for their foolish consumption of junk food.
Bars receive different treatment than makers or sellers of candy bars for reasons of legality and ethics. Bars that serve alcohol to minors are breaking the law. Of course, the bars can choose not to serve minors, just as parents can choose to buy healthy snacks rather than deep-fried pork rinds.
Kids who drink certainly deserve their share of blame because they know they shouldn’t be imbibing. But the penalties are heavier for the business than for the underage drinker, an incongruity that most people don’t mind. If you think it’s a better idea to simply throw every 17-year-old who buys a six-pack into jail for 30 days, then write your congressman and suggest it. I wouldn’t support such a law, but perhaps some people would. Then you can start lobbying for stiff sentences whenever a kid eats a Ding-Dong rather than an apple.
Is seven kids too many? We have six children living at home, including two sets of twins, plus a 26-year-old son with his own home and his family. We never intended to have this many children, but the two sets of twins changed everything. We make good money and can provide what they need, but we’re worried about how much we have to divide our attention between the children. Are we being fair with the kids?
If you love them and take care of them, seven children are not too many. You need not go back too many generations to find a time when many parents had seven children. These days, few people need a houseful of kids to work the family farm, but the issues you face in raising a large family are neither new nor insurmountable.
Do your best to spend some quality time with each child every day, and do something individually with each child for at least an hour every week. However, the best way to establish the familiarity and camaraderie that makes your brood a family rather than simply a crowd is to do things together.
I know it’s not easy, but try to sit down for a big, boisterous family meal a few times a week. When you do yardwork, get everybody involved in the morning, then take the afternoon off for pizza and a game or a movie. At least once a month, pack everyone up and go off to a museum or a ballgame, somewhere everyone can have fun.
It takes some planning, but with commitment and a little creativity, you can reinforce those family ties.
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