I used to teach a parenting class to parents who had kids in trouble with the law. I started out by asking, “How many of you teach your children to lie, cheat or steal?” Of course nobody admitted they did. I then had about 20 items I’d list, the movie food issue being one, driving over the speed limit, and so on. At least one of the 20 applied to everybody.
Then I’d say: “You taught your kids that it was OK to lie, cheat and steal — it’s only getting caught that’s bad. That’s why you are in my class today.” This is what that niece is teaching her children.
PAUL IN DENVER
DEAR PAUL: Thank you for agreeing. However, I’m sorry to say that many readers thought the issue was more about the cost and selection of snacks than that of cheating the theater owners. My newspaper readers comment:
DEAR ABBY: For a family of four to see a movie and get a drink and popcorn or candy costs about $80. This is highway robbery. The cost of a drink is about 5 or 10 cents to the theater, and they charge a whopping $5. The same goes for popcorn. Let’s be serious. How much does popcorn cost? A tub of popcorn at a theater is $7.50.
My children want the whole theater experience, which includes a snack. How can a family afford to go to the movies at these prices? Theater owners should be able to make a reasonable profit on the snacks, but this is ridiculous. Sorry, I will continue to bring my snacks in.
KIM IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ABBY: By teaching children that it’s OK to cheat on this particular issue, they will generalize that it’s OK to cheat ANYTIME, if they don’t agree with whoever sets the rules. Thus it may become OK to cheat in school because “he makes the tests too hard,” or to engage in underage drinking because “ the law is stupid, and besides, everyone does it.”
Just wait until they decide it’s OK to sneak out of the house when Mom says “no” because “ her reasons are lame!” That mother had better be careful when she justifies, because what parents teach their kids will affect them sooner or later.
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.