In his latest column, Freedhoff wonders, “Why Is Everyone Always Giving My Kids Junk Food?”
His basic premise? Everywhere his kids go, writes Freedhoff, “they're being smothered with junk.”
From the examples Freedhoff gives—in his daughters’ schools, after one’s skating practice, in another’s book reading club—it would appear he’s made a good case. Others have made the same case before.
People are giving kids lots of foods that many parents say they wouldn’t give to their own children.
In Freedhoff’s case, his kids sometimes get those foods right in front of his nose (“Saturday skating lessons often include lollipops”). Other times, though Freedhoff is not present, he’s been given advance notice (as in the case of “[a]n email sent to parents” by pre-school administrators announcing upcoming treats for kids).
So what does Freedhoff do about this junk people are feeding his kids?
He says he often “couldn't decline if [h]e wanted to” because he’s sometimes not around when these adults give his kids foods he doesn’t approve of, and so he’ll “keep pointing out how crazy our new normal has become.”
Freedhoff is welcome to raise his kids however he’d like. But the “new normal” Freedhoff refers to isn’t that junk food is prevalent—it’s that some parents appear less inclined to put their feet down than were parents in days of yore (like when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s).
Freedhoff’s right that parents can't watch their children all day every day. But does that mean they lack the ability to ensure their kids don't eat certain foods? Of course not.
In fact, it’s part of a parent's job to communicate to each and every caregiver any preferences they have for what their child should or should not eat.
Does your kid have allergies? Because teachers and others in similar positions can't possibly know what you want (or don't want) your child to eat unless you tell them. Parents are ultimately responsible for communicating this information to schools and other temporary caretakers; so speak up, parents—and be vigilant.
If yours is a no-candy (or no-soda, or no-pork, or no-dairy) family, then it’s your job as a parent to make sure your child and every potential caretaker knows this—especially, by all means, if like Freedhoff you're present in the flesh or know in advance that your child will be served such food.
Tell your school not to serve your child any food—or any foods you don’t approve of. (Even some who claim to disagree at least in part with my stance here say pretty much the same thing.) Tell your child to avoid food provided by teachers or others at school. Send your child to school every day (but especially on party days) with foods you buy or prepare at home.
One need not be a parent to call this what it is: parenting.