Determining what constitutes as a good parent has now been made more difficult to define this month because of a case out of New York in which a father could be denied visitation rights to his son because he would not take the 5-year-old to McDonald’s for dinner. While many people across the nation, including some here in Pennsylvania, applaud the father for not giving in to unhealthy eating habits, a psychologist’s testimony in family court recently may have wrongfully branded the man as an unfit parent instead.
The situation likely would not have been that big of a deal for some families, but because the couple is currently embroiled in a contentious divorce and child custody battle, the father’s dinner denial could be used as fodder by the man’s soon-to-be ex-wife at a future custody hearing. The psychologist, who was assigned to evaluate the couple and their child, told the judge that the father’s refusal to take his son to McDonald’s raised concerns about the father’s current visitation schedule. Some reports indicate that the psychologist even went so far as to describe the man as being incapable of taking care of his son.
Although the man has filed a defamation lawsuit against the psychologist, there may still be some lingering concern that the statement given in court hurt his chances of gaining custody of his son. It’s ironic that a parent would be considered unfit simply because they would not let their child eat junk food, which could be argued during the custody hearing. The hope is that a judge takes this into consideration and gives the father a chance to argue his side of the case before making a custody decision.
Source: Time Magazine, “Not Lovin’ It: Dad Accused of ‘Unfit Parenting’ for Refusing to Take His Son to McDonalds,” Madison Gray, Nov. 8, 2013