BY MAURA AMMENHEUSER
If your kid struggles with a medical problem, does that make you a bad parent?
Cleveland, Ohio's social services department says yes. It took an obese 8-year-old into custody, arguing that the boy's mother hadn't done enough to help the child lose weight - and that that failure constitutes neglect.
You can read some of the news coverage by clicking here.
The medical establishment and the media have drawn much attention to the rampant obesity problem in America, with good reason. Extreme excess weight contributes to a scary list of chronic illnesses. The fact that our children are getting so fat is particularly alarming. If a kid, who doesn't have to sit in a cubicle all day and has the revved-up metabolism necessary for rapid growth, can't keep off excess weight, something's seriously wrong.
That said, it's notoriously difficult to lose weight, even for a child. I don't know what this particular family has or hasn't done to help the boy. The whole family would probably have to overhaul its lifestyle to encourage positive results - banishing junk food from the house, getting away from the TV and walking or biking together, finding healthy ways to prepare veggies so the kids will learn to like them, etc. It's not easy or fast and ultimately, no parent can control everything their kid eats.
But even assuming the Cleveland mother didn't take all those steps, does that justify tearing a child from his family? What's to prevent government from doing the same with a kid who's too skinny? Or whose asthma is out of control? Or whose parents and doctor haven't found precisely the right way to manage a child's ADD?
Do you have a child with an ongoing health problem? How do you teach them to manage it? And has anyone ever suggested that your child's health is a barometer of your competency as a parent?