Mama’s Two Cents on the Big Gulp Issue: Embracing “No”

by Red Pill Mama · 3 comments

in Advertising+Media,Character,Education,Environment,Health+Wellness,Politics+Policy

Red Pill Papa’s Big Gulp post has my brain so completely twitterpated that I simply have to post instead of comment.  I’m Tippi Hedren once again, swatting a swarm of birds flying around my head, but the one that’s gripped my shoulder and is pecking my skull is saying, “No.  No.  No.”  Because I can’t help but think that what could solve this particular Big Gulp-related crisis, and so many others, would be for Americans to regain a simple ability which we seem to have lost: the ability to say “No.”

The Red Pill Parents blog, we hope, will most often be a forum where we present very common-sense information that, in a perfect world, would lead all of us to start making different choices than those we perhaps have made to date: choices that now, because we have more information, we know will be more beneficial to ourselves, our kids, our community and/or our planet.  Some of the information we present will be fairly common; some of it maybe not; it’s impossible to categorize all of our readers in the same way, so we simply get the information out that we think is relevant and useful.  If you’ve heard it before: great; and if you haven’t: awesome.  We’ve done our job.  And we will always charge ourselves, and you, our readers, to have the courage and discipline to make those more beneficial choices.  But in a situation like the soda/obesity issue, especially as it relates to kids, is it really possible that there are some people out there who haven’t ‘gotten the memo’?

I think the chances of that are slim, and so it’s puzzling to see that so many people continue to make this very poor choice for their children.  But it’s like so many poor choices that Americans continue to make, in droves: the fast food three times a day choice, the gas-guzzling choice, the plastic shopping bag choice, the outsourcing jobs choice — this list could go on ad nauseam (truly).  If these choices only affected the decision-maker that would be one thing (victimless crimes, you might say).  But each of these choices has far-reaching consequences outside the world of the decision-maker.  So that person’s inability to say “No” to themselves (regarding the Big Gulp, the Big Mac, the gas-guzzler, the plastic bags or the cheaper overseas labor) ends up costing someone else, be it (respectively) tax dollars that pay for Medicaid or Medicare, the life of someone fighting in Iraq so that Exxon/Shell can secure a development license for the QURNA-1 oilfield, the environmental cost of further growth of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a later post, promise), or the workers of our economy, currently enjoying an effective unemployment rate of 17%.  ”It’s a free country; I can do what I want,” is not what the freedom of this country is all about.  What about the freedoms of everyone else besides you?   This is the Me Generation gone wild: a world gone mad.

So as we often ask, What’s a Red Pill Parent to do?  It’s so simple: learn to say “No” to yourself, and make sure your kids know you’re doing it.  Model it so they can witness it in action.  Say “No” to them.  “No” is a boundary; “No” is structure; “No” is love!  “No” says you’re perfect just the way you are, with what you have.  “No” says I want better things for you than that, because you’re worth it.  And if they grow up and can say “No” to themselves, you will be a hero.

Red Pill Parents, I struggle with this every day.  But I’ve got my eyes on the prize, and that is this: that the number one thing I want to teach my kids above everything else is to be happy with what they have.  Imagine the freedom, joy and peace that comes with that understanding.  But the road to that world is paved with an incalculable number of “No”s.

And along the way, perhaps our culture needs to be slapped with a big collective “No.”  I do believe that our government today is too big, bleeding obscene amounts of money, and in many respects gets in our business when it shouldn’t.  But while you shouldn’t have to legislate common sense 0r good decisions, it seems people (citizens, corporate execs and even elected officials) won’t do this for themselves.  And if their lack of common sense or good decision-making affected only them, legislating those things would infringe upon their rights.  But when those selfish and poor decisions negatively affect others, not legislating against them infringes upon others’ rights.  The health risks of cigarette smoking were fully known years before any action was taken.  My high school still had a smoking court in 1981!  But does anyone today deny that the taxes, public education, smoking bans and enforced corporate responsibility on Big Tobacco were mistakes?  Doubtful.  Unfortunately, in a culture that can’t say “No” to itself, these steps, taken by our government, are necessary to effect change.  Even as a smoker (until just a couple years ago), I grumbled as the bans followed me around the country and the cost rose because of sin taxes, but I knew it was the right thing.  And I’m glad the culture finally took a lot of the fun and social acceptance out of smoking, because that was certainly an ultimate factor in my decision, and ability, to finally quit.  And there is no down side in that.

So what are the factors that lead people to continue to make poor decisions?  Here’s the equation (Red Pill Papa and I talk like this all the time in our bi-weekly phone chats; we call it “Red Pill Math”): ignorance + entitlement + enabling (by our peers and a persuasive advertiser-driven culture) = a world gone mad.  (Hopefully we’re actually still on the brink, and haven’t gone completely over the edge yet.)  So what do your kids need in order to make good decisions for themselves and the world around them?  Information (to combat the ignorance); lessons and examples in saying “No” (because you are the parent, after all); reduced exposure to advertising (to combat the enabling through the entitlement message) and I honestly don’t know what the hell to do about the peer influence: I guess you just have to hope that everything else you’re doing will strengthen their character against poor peer examples (I look forward to hearing from our readers on this particular topic, which I have little experience with).

And whether it’s coming from people’s moms or their government, a little “No” could go a long way, methinks.

– Red Pill Mama

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mama Karen February 25, 2010 at 8:49 am

I agree whole heartedly with your “No” assessment. But I also agree with the sugar tax.

I teach my sons by example. Everything in moderation, including sugar and I say no much more often then I say yes to the unending request for treats.

As I get closer to sending my eldest to Public School I dread the idea of vending machines hawking sugar treats for spare change. I am a grown person who has learned, with the help of her own Mother, to deny myself the pleasure of a candy bar except on rare occassion but I do not think my 4 year old should be placed, daily, in a situation where he needs to decide between candy or no candy. He still needs a hand to hold when making decisions of self denial. This is a eat desert first kind of kid.

We have a rule in our home that dinner must be eaten in full and with decent table manners before a treat is allowed. As often as not he either doesn’t finish dinner (just doesn’t have much appetite at night) or refuses to use his fork (ongoing battle) and, as often as not he doesn’t argue when the treat is denied. He understood what he needed to do to get the treat, and he understood that he did not do those things…I am hoping he is also learning that if he is not hungry enough to eat dinner then he is not hungry enough to eat a treat. If I weren’t there and the treat were not hindered by caveats of behavoir and parental supervision, dollars to donuts, this kid would eat the treat, and he would eat it before he ate anything of nutritive value.

So by all means I am teaching my sons the power and benifit of “No” but I also respect the fact that they are children and should not be left to make grown up decisions.

I have a whole different diatriabe regarding how grown up Americans eat, and even worse, how we feed our children, but I only have so much preach to the choir in me on a word say.



Red Pill Mama February 25, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Mama Karen, I love hearing all these stories about real-life battles with this stuff and how smart and thinking parents deal with it. I can’t believe your little guy is only FOUR and will have vending machines at his school! That is so wrong. Of everything you said, I love this the most:

“they are children and should not be left to make grown up decisions”

That sums up our Red Pill Philosophy across the board, not just about food, but about everything! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I hope you continue to do so.

Nikoblue March 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm

The biggest eye-opener for my 13 year old was when he watched the documentary “Supersize Me.” Now he understands that anything that you buy at the drive-thru is not real food. Another great resource is the book “Food Rules” by Michael Pollen. It’s pocket-sized and soft cover, ie. kid-friendly. My kids enjoy reading bits and pieces of this book and I’ve overheard them discuss the contents with their friends.

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