Visitation at stake after father refuses to buy fast food for son

Child custody and visitation cases rarely make headlines in St. Louis unless they involve the rich and famous. One case, however, that involves a family on the East Coast is making national news this week. The case is grabbing the interest of many people, as a father was branded to be unfit after he did something that many parents do.

The man told his son that he could not have fast food for dinner. When his son refused to eat anything other than a McDonald’s meal, the father told him that he would have to go to bed hungry.

That type of discipline might not be approved by all parents, but many parents think that is a fine way to teach children a valuable lesson. In this case, however, a judge considered revoking the man’s visitation rights due to the strong-arm tactic.

The case involves a man and woman who are currently going through a divorce. During the process, the man reportedly has visitation with the couple’s 4-year-old son. On a recent Tuesday night, his son asked him to take him to McDonald’s.

The father told him no, because he thought the boy had been eating too much junk food. He told the boy that he could have anything to eat for dinner other than food from McDonald’s, or he could chose not to eat dinner. The boy threw a tantrum and refused to select any place else to eat. So, the father held to his promise and did not feed the child dinner.

As a result of this father’s decision, a psychologist suggested to a judge that the father was inept and as such his visitation should be limited. This is according to a defamation lawsuit that the father has now filed against the psychologist.

The allegations in this case are a reminder that although fathers’ rights have come a long way in Missouri, fathers do often have to fight for the right to have a meaningful presence in their children’s lives. Proving one’s fitness as a parent is not easy when every parenting choice is examined under a microscope.

Source: Associated Press, “Suit: NY Dad Criticized for Denying Son McDonald’s,” Jennifer Peltz, Nov. 8, 2013

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