No Means No!

McDonald’s Happy Meals are in the news yet again.  A consumer group is suing the fast food restaurant on behalf of Monet Parham, a health educator for the state of California, in an effort to prevent them from using toys to “market to children”.  The Attorneys claim that “Under the law, you don’t blame the victim of deceptive practices” and complains that  McDonald’s is an even bigger offender than tobacco companies when it comes to unfair marketing since it targets young children with the toys and ads.  San Francisco has already banned the use of toys in happy meals earlier this year, and in my opinion set a dangerous precedent.

What is the real problem here, what is the actual offense?  McDonald’s, just as every company who offers a product or service markets their product.  The idea is to make your product appealing, more appealing than your competition.  There is nothing nefarious about this practice.

Though I cannot speak for everyone, but in my years in line at McDonald’s I have yet to witness a young unattended child, of the age the Happy Meal is marketed for, in line acting as if they need their Happy Meal toy fix.  Kids are not sneaking out at night to get the latest trinket.  The comparison to cigarettes is wholly inappropriate.  When such absurdities are offered for your side of the argument, it is rather obvious your case holds no merit.

McDonald’s is being used as a scapegoat for Parham and anyone else who takes this offense at the Happy Meal toys.  She is one in the same with the types who complained about the placement of candy in the grocery store line.  The problem with them is their dislike to tell their darling angel what every darling angel needs to hear many times through out their formative years, “no”.  Parham does not like being the bad guy and likely is herself upset whenever she must tell darling angel “no”.  The child reacts with a tantrum, or tears.  There is a good reason for this reaction, it has worked so many times in the past.  The bottom line is children are manipulators, they can become masters at manipulation if you let them.  If they learn they can cry and fuss to get the parent to give in, they will do it. 

What Parham is looking to do is blame the “no” on McDonald’s rather than herself.  Rather than assert her authority as the one in charge and deal with the reaction, she now seeks to make the fast food chain the authority.  She no longer has to address the child, the restaurant has made the decision for her.  Too many parents worry about their child’s reaction, and are concerned with making the child feel disappointment.  This is not a problem I have.  From early ages my children learned “no”.  When–as my father calls it–the “boo-boo lip” started to poke out, I reaffirmed my decision, “you do not need that”.  As a result my children just take “no” for what it is, no means no.

Parham and those of like mind feel that because she is unable to tell her children “no” without incident, that no one else should have the option.  On the occasions when I take my children to McDonald’s, sometimes they get a Happy meal, sometimes they do not.  If Parham has her way, my children and yours do not even have the option.  What is it that Parham feels she has the right and or obligation to legislate an issue such as this?  If she cannot say “no” that is a burden she has.  She has decided that she cannot handle the responsibility of regulating her child’s desires.  But rather than change the location of her occasional meal, she has decided to pursue action to force a company to adhere to her parental decisions.  It is not the government’s job to make your parenting decisions for you, nor is it their obligation to make those decisions easier.


  1. I totally agree. Well said. People should have the right to harm themselves.

    • But here’s the thing, I don’t get the impression it’s for health reasons. The focus is on marketing toys to kids and the emphasis is on the parent feeling they should not have to argue with the child, that they shouldn’t “have to” be in the position to confront their child’s negative reaction to the “n” word (no).

      San Francisco put the ban forward on the premise of health, but Parham seems to be pushing due to arguing with her child. Either way no one is under obligation to eat fast food, just stop going. But I am with you, people need to be able to make decisions for themselves, even bad decisions (in most cases).

  2. I agree totally with this post. I hear that in China, where they have had the one child policy now for years, the children of the rapidly growing middle class are treated like little princes and princesses. Since parents only have the one child they invest so many expectations to him/her and will provide him/her with everything imaginable he/she desires. The kids are growing to be adults that expect to be entiteled to just about anything.

    Children are more vulnerable to advertising, but that is one of the reasons they have parents. It is the parents job to teach children the purpose and false messages of ads. But parents seem often to be totally unable to do this. Why? In my humble opinion, we would have no commercials for adults if adults could process the purpose and messages of advertisment. There are of course advertisments that are purely informative, but they are in the minority, in comparison to those advertisments that are simply trying to create brands and imaginary good mood about the product. In that sense the happy meals are actually advertised in rather honest way. The customer actually gets the meal and the toy as the advertisment promises. Unlike for example som cola ads seem to promise you the whole christmass paraphenalia, just by buying a bottle of refreshment drink. No, I do not think those adds are such a problem either, but the lie behind is usually the same: You feel better by buying & consuming. Advertising is actually making people feel more rotten, We in the western world are under such a pressure to be happy by owning so many things, that people are feeling miserable because only wery few people can afford it all that is advertised.

Any Thoughts?

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