Responsible drinking, responsible gambling, wherever we look there is a marketing message about behaving responsibly. But what about responsible parenting?
Last weekend I went to the Capital FM Summertime Ball. It was a belated treat for my daughter's coming of age as a teenager. We went with some friends and it was a first for all of us. Wembley was packed to the rafters with teenagers and their families, some camped out on picnic blankets in the mosh pit. "Get your hands in the air!!!" was the popular riposte of every act that rocked the stage and I am sure it wasn't only my stamina that was pushed to the max. If you weren't taking part, quite frankly you were at the wrong party.
This was not a B list concert. Over 7 hours we were treated to la creme de la creme ...in our daughters' minds and ours actually. Little Mix, The Vamps, Ariana, will.i.am, Jess Glynne, Tinie Tempah were just some of the class acts on offer, as well as a surprise appearance from Dizzee Rascal. The concert flowed seamlessly and @ £90 a ticket it was real value for money, with each act on stage for between 20-30 minutes. I would highly recommend it to anyone with music loving kids in the house.
Camped out for so long it was difficult not to take notice of the people around you and one thing struck all of us whilst we were there and had us chatting over our champagne in the rare breaks we did take from the stadium to draw breath.
It was eating or rather over-eating. Now I realise I may be sticking my neck out here as it is a thorny subject, but even the children were commenting. We were in the first row in the stands and at the end of our row was an obese middle-aged man with his teenage daughters who were also tipping the scales at overweight.
My view is very much live and let live, however, this family did not stop eating. Doughnuts, Burgers, Chips on repeat, all washed down with gallons of fizz and I don't mean champagne. It was quite simply never ending.They say the apple never falls far from the tree and this was a case in point. We were at a concert with, as I said everyone on their feet dancing. The atmosphere was electric. BUT not once did this man stand up other than to collect more food for his daughters, who at most just stood up. Clearly the father has made his decision in life but with childhood obesity reaching such high levels And WHO declaring it the most significant public health challenge this century, there is clearly in my opinion a role for the parent to monitor their children's eating habits and if necessary bring it under control sooner rather than later. These girls were gorgeous but they clearly didn't need the quantity of rubbish food they were eating. There was an opportunity for the dad to step in and say no.
In the early stages of our relationship my now husband was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and classified as obese. To look at him you would not think that was the case. Yes he was bigger than average but to the untrained eye obese was not a term you would use. He had rowed to a high level as an adolescent and still exercised regularly. Yet his blood sugar was out of control and he was quickly whisked off to see a series of specialists to help him address the problem. After endless consultations there was no denying the fundamental issue which was that his diet was rubbish. As a bachelor holding down a senior job, dedication to his welfare had fallen by the wayside and as a result of endless takeaways and litres of fizzy pop he was now a certified diabetic.
For the first year of our relationship we lived on a low GI diet. It was great for my waistline and his. He lost two stone and reduced his waist measurement, which was the real indicator, by three inches. At his next health check he was struck off the diabetic list and heralded as a diabetic success story. He had combated a popular dietary ailment and reversed his status to "normal".
Maybe as a result of this experience I am now more judgmental of people's diets than the average person. I know the damage first hand that a diet of rubbish can do. Quite frankly my husband had no excuse other than pure laziness for his condition but as a parent it is possible to prevent our children ending up in this situation.
We all know it is tough being a parent and saying no is without doubt the hardest part of all, but sometimes "no" is the kindest answer in the long term. There is no need for our children to be facing obesity at a young age and we have an obligation to guide our children with their diet in the same way we would with their drink consumption or their use of social media. Anything less is irresponsible parenting.