"I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald's should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience. But as other busy, working moms and dads know, we have to say 'no' to our young children so many times, and McDonald's makes it that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat."
The first thing that jumped out at me in the quote above is that McDonald's is "getting into her kids' head" without her permission. If a person is so concerned that their child is being damaged and changed by what they see on television, and I think this can be a valid concern, there is another option: turn the TV off. Cancel your cable/satellite/whatever. If you are letting your child watch it, then in a way you are granting "permission" for them to see advertising.
And of course there's the whole Do-Your-Job-And-Say-No! issue that instantly comes to mind. If you can't tell your kid that they aren't going to be eating Happy Meals every day when they're six, you have a problem.
There is, however, a reason for this post (you were beginning to wonder, weren't you?):
The other day my family and I went to a national sandwich chain for lunch. We don't eat out very often. In fact, I'd say we go out to eat as a family around twice a month (Paul even brings brown bag meals when he's in SF for school for the weekend), most often when we have to go into the city to do our shopping. So it's a special occasion. A kind of big deal, if you will, that we all look forward to, even though it's usually a fairly inexpensive place.
I should say before I add the part that inspired this post, that everyone at this sandwich chain was very nice and polite and pleasant. So it wasn't the workers who I had a problem with (and they didn't even know I had a problem). I absolutely will be going back again to get a $5 footlong sandwich!
No, what bothered me was the store's policy as explained by the staff. When we got up to the counter to pay we each had a little bag of chips to go with our 12 inch subs (and Sadie's little turkey sandwich). Sadie had a little bag of cheetos. She doesn't get to eat them often at home, and she absolutely loves them. But when we went to pay we were informed that Sadie could have an apple or yogurt because the chain is now promoting healthy eating for children.
We've gone to this chain before and the choices in the past have included a cookie, chips, an apple or yogurt.
I think it's great that they have healthy options. But I think they should realize that parents should also have the option of letting their kid have a less healthy treat. The kids I knew growing up who had the most issues with food (and who had smuggled in junk food troves under their beds) were the ones whose parents never let them have anything from the "junk food" realm.
Apples and yogurt aren't really "special" in our house. We have apples constantly (it's such an easy snack) and I just bought another giant box of yogurt. We don't have chips here that I know of (mostly because this grown up is trying to lose weight!).
I don't need Subway, or any other restaurant helping me decide what my child needs to eat. And I find that sort of paternalistic mentality to be infuriating. Options are great, but let me be the mom and make the mom decisions. Even if that means saying "no" sometimes.
In fact, as a mom, it's my responsibility to say no sometimes. It's part of my job. And I don't need lawyers, judges or fast food restaurants trying to assume that responsibility for me.