Child Behavior Modification: By Any Means Necessary?
Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential, and all around aging bad-boy of the culinary set, has penned his new, not so humble tome, titled Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine To The World Of Food And The People Who Cook. It is more or less what you would expect from the guy who turns eating sheep’s testicles into a sort of gastronomic bravado, but there is one chapter where Bourdain waxes philosophical, particularly about parenthood, and more particularly about the evil grasp and influence fast food has over our childrens taste buds. “As I see it, nothing less than the heart, mind, soul and physical health of my adored only child.” States Bourdain, and he goes to humorous extremes to limit, if not subvert, the powerful influence that companies like McDonald’s may have over his young daughter. As a means of negative conditioning, or subtle psychological warfare, Bourdain writes ‘”Ronald smells bad,” I say every time he shows up on television or [on a sign] out of the car window. “Kind of like… poo!”‘ This is certainly one way to conjure up negative feelings about a consumer product with mass appeal.
Bourdain is certainly not the first one to come up with this counter-tactic. Documentary filmmaker, and fellow McDonald’s detractor, Morgan Spurlock mentions in his film Super Size Me that he will use negative conditioning (B.F. Skinner is rolling around in his grave) by punching his child in the head every time they drive past a McDonald’s to insure his future children develop a deep set distaste and association with the fast food franchise.
Now both of these approaches, while humorous and entertaining to read, are not really practical, nor advisable, approaches toward cultivating a child who is able to make informed decisions about what he or she chooses to eat, consume, drink (the same could really be said for discouraging any sort of negative behavior). The reason being is that by being blatantly dishonest with your children, even if the effort has their best interests in mind, might on the short term dissuade your child from eating junk food and loading up on soda, but on the long term will likely come back to haunt you once your child uncovers the trickery and deception. Still, concerned parents still resort to “white lies” and soft duplicity when dealing with bad behavior, or even the specter of disagreeable or objectionable actions. Some parents even swear by it.
Parents, with all of your experience and shrewd observations, is it ever better to employ these “white lies” in order to protect your children from things or companies that may harm them? If so, what are some of the “white lies” you chose to share with your children, and how did they stand up to the test of time? Is it best to always be truthful and let your children figure it out for themselves, or is it sometimes better to be economical with the truth?