We're parents and responsible for the health of our kids – honest!

Last week we were asked why The Parents’ Jury always wants to blame someone else for the rise in childhood obesity, instead of parents themselves.

Sigh. Sadly, this is not the first time we’ve been accused of trying to absolve parents of their responsibility, but we’re clear about our messages. Repeat after us: parents are responsible for their children’s health and wellbeing, but their positive messages are being undermined by less than healthy environments.

We’ve asked parent and Steering Committee member Renza Scibilia to explain the TPJ position. For all our supporters, here is a great way to share the message. Send this post onto interested families and let’s advocate for change!

When I signed up to be a parent there were a lot of things about which I hadn’t a clue. I’d never watched the Wiggles, I had no idea about the breastfeeding versus formula feeding wars or how to make play dough.

But one thing that I was sure about was that when it came to making decisions about what my daughter eats, my husband and I would be calling the shots.

I have a fairly good understanding of food. This is based on a couple of things: my overall love of preparing food, my overall love of eating food and I also live with type 1 diabetes, so the food I eat impacts on my blood sugar levels.  I get how food works, what food does and what constitutes food versus sometimes food. Put it all together and I know my tomatoes from my tomahtoes (which makes no sense when you say that with an Australian accent).

All of these reasons are why I became a member of The Parents’ Jury (TPJ). I could see very strong similarities between my food beliefs and what TPJ is trying to do. So it gets me really, really mad when I see TPJ’s mission misrepresented – usually by food companies trying to dismiss our work.

Here is NOT what TPJ is trying to do:

  • Say that parents have no responsibility in the food choices of their children
  • Say that government should make decisions about what people eat
  • Say that all packaged food is evil
  • Say that there is absolutely no place, anywhere, ever, ever, ever for fast food
  • Say that children should only ever eat lentils, brown rice and mung-beans.

The aim of The Parents’ Jury is really simple. Members – who are parents, grandparents and carers – want Aussie kids to be healthy and active and to live in an environment which supports this.  This means we want to see things like:

  • Schools that provide supportive environments for healthy eating and regular physical activity
  • A reduction in the level of unhealthy food marketing to our kids
  • Our kids living in active, friendly communities, where there is appropriate local neighbourhood infrastructure, active transport to and from school and a return to active play
  • At least 50% of supermarket checkouts, and their immediate vicinity, being free from the sale of all junk food products.

All I ask for is a level playing field. I am capable of saying ‘no’ to my child and I do that regularly. Yesterday, between the checkout at our supermarket, the walk down the street to where I’d parked the car and the advertising billboards on the way home, I said no over a dozen times. I’m good at it. But I’m really bored with it, too!

And let’s face it, with almost one in four children considered to be overweight or obese, the problem goes beyond just telling me to say no.

Because the thing is – I can’t put ads at bus and train stops. I can’t take out billboard advertising the balanced meal we’re having for dinner. I can’t run an ad for strawberries. I can’t sponsor kids’ local cricket programs. Actually, I could. But I have more important things to spend my money on. Like kids’ books to keep feeding the Roald Dahl period we’re currently enjoying. And shoes.

Of course we’re responsible for what our kids eat. Of course we’re in charge of saying no. But if we could just have a supportive environment that doesn’t undermine the healthy living messages I’m trying to teach my child, my job would be easier. And that would be just great!

Agree with Renza? Why not join us? It’s free and takes less than one minute to do. Go on, use your voice!

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