Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

You may remember the news story out of California a couple of years ago. A woman was suing McDonald’s because her kids whined for Happy Meals.  I have to admit; I found her lawyer’s comment priceless (and sad). “When she [the mother] tells them ‘no’ they become disrespectful and pout.”   Whining and pouting became the grounds for a lawsuit.

Regardless of what the situation might have said about frivolous litigation, it said a great deal about parenting. If you are a parent you have undoubtedly experienced the frustration and perhaps the embarrassment of a disrespectful, pouting child. It is not the responsibility of a restaurant to teach children respect and proper attitude. They have no long-term investment.  Instead, parents have that important task.

Rather than take it to court, let’s take a look at the situation and possible alternatives. If you as the parent choose to acquiesce and give in to whining and pouting, you may achieve a temporary solution. The problem will potentially come in the long-term as your child learns that whining is a successful way to manipulate the situation and gain control.

Mom and Dad, it is time to look long-term.  It might be as simple as repeating the mantra: “I am raising a responsible adult not a Happy Meal connoisseur!” of “I am raising a responsible adult not a _______________!”  (Fill in that blank with whatever is appropriate for your situation.)

If simply repeating the reminder suggested above is not sufficient, consider these simple suggestions for eliminating the whining.

•  Choose one behavior that needs to change – only one thing at a time. (i.e. Whining for a Happy Meal)
•  Be proactive and explain the required change and the consequence that will result if the change does not occur. (i.e. Return home without eating out)
•  Stick to the plan. Your child may protest at first, but if the consequence is adequate (no McDonald’s at all), your goal will ultimately be met.

Hence, our challenge: Let’s make this year the year to Be The Parent knowing that if you “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Are you planning on making any parenting changes in the New Year?