It was a typical office day…
“Dr. TOZZI, she will not LISTEN to me!” shrieked the irate mom, pointing to her daughter. “Tell her that she CANNOT have Chicken McNuggets and supersized fries for dinner. That’s all she wants to eat!”
Rebellious teenager gone wild? Not this time: This was about an overweight four-year-old girl.
Truth be told, I could substitute a boy or girl of any age for this four-year-old, and the story would be the same.
I remember listening to this particular mom because it was not one of my shining moments as a giver of good counsel. Perhaps like any parent with a history of disciplining unruly youngsters, I had heard enough by the time the woman uttered the word “McNuggets,” and this time I responded poorly.
I turned to the mother and said, “Why should I tell her? Is she old enough to drive? No – she’s a child – you have a responsibility here.”
It was, as I say, an unfortunate reaction.
We as parents, teachers and health professionals must slow down and take the time to teach by structured example.
We must support each other as parents, and share experiences and knowledge. Most of all, we must be willing to set limits and make the tough choices. It may be fast food now, but it will be drugs, alcohol, and risky behavior next.
Confronting our responsibilities as parents in the early years earns us the moral authority (and respect) that we will need in those later years to steer our growing children away from harmful temptation and the pitfalls of peer pressure.