You sometimes hear about “Disney Dads” — you know, divorced fathers who see their kids so seldom that when they do, they spoil them rotten. Then when their time is up and the visitation is over, they send them back home to Mom to wean the kids off dessert for breakfast, set the behavioral boundaries, administer the baths, limit TV and make them do homework.
Perhaps you can sympathize with dads who don’t want to play the heavy in the limited time they spend with their kids. On the other hand, the moms doing the bulk of the parenting would probably also like to play the part of the good guy more often, especially since young kids can have a hard time understanding that being the bad guy often comes from a place of deep love. Chalk it up to one of the many, many complicated, unfair and even devastating parts of divorce.
David Schorr is no Disney dad. The 43-year-old New Yorker is fighting for custody of his 4-year-old son with his estranged wife and sees his boy for dinner on Tuesday nights as well as on weekends. On one of their recent Tuesday night outings, instead of going to their usual restaurant that offered healthy menu items, the boy told his dad he wanted to go to McDonald’s. According to Yahoo Shine, based on how much junk the preschooler had eaten lately, Schorr told him no. The boy threw a fit, as kids his age do, and Schorr ended up telling him that it was either their usual restaurant or no dinner at all. So the boy went to bed hungry — and he lived to tell about it. Who did he tell? His mom.
She immediately took him to McDonald’s, according to Schorr. In hindsight, considering the kid is dealing with his parents split, Schorr thinks he probably should have just taken him, too. Which, by the way, seems even further proof that he is wise enough and good enough (at least based on this incident) to be able to parent his child effectively. Admitting mistakes takes a big person, especially when you’re angry, under attack, under a microscope and backed in a corner.
Schorr’s decision to deny a Happy Meal was one that’s been made countless times by parents everywhere, and most would argue it was a good one. You don’t give in to a child’s terrorist demands and reward bad behavior, especially as it applies to junk food. But Schorr is now second-guessing the whole thing after a psychiatrist filed a report with the court following McDonald’s-gate accusing him of being “”wholly incapable of taking care of his son” and recommending his weekend visits with his son be denied.
Schorr is suing the psychiatrist for defamation, according to the New York Post.
“You’d think it was sexual molestation,” Schorr told the newspaper. “I am just floored by it.”
It is perplexing. Assuming the psychiatrist is basing her recommendation on this single incident (although maybe there’s more to it that has not been reported), then most parents are probably unfit to raise their own children. You’d think denying a dad to opportunity to see his son would be based on exactly the opposite however — that he was giving the kid too much junk. Telling his kid to eat a piece of salmon means he shouldn’t be a dad? Sure, maybe in the mind of the kid at that moment, but that’s why kids have parents: to steer them in the right, healthy direction.
It takes a strong person, and a good parent, to keep doing the right thing when faced with the tear-streaked face of a small child. Going to McDonald’s is the easy way out. There are plenty of rewards and treats to be had — and doling them out at the appropriate time and for the right reasons is much harder than giving them out at random, often, and for the wrong reasons. Teaching your kid the right way to eat and that they don’t always get their way is often the toughest path to take, although hopefully for most parents, they don’t get punished for it the way Schorr just might.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
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