We all know that toddlers go through the “terrible twos,” but what happens when parents try to take creative parenting approaches to discipline their young children? One New York man is at the forefront of a fathers’ rights debate after he reportedly refused to take the child to McDonald’s for dinner. The man, who was attempting to wean his son off of junk food, asked his child to choose between having dinner at another establishment or not having any dinner at all.

The 4-year-old boy told his father that he would only eat at McDonald’s, so dad withheld dinner and returned the boy early to his mother’s house. The boy’s father admitted to generally being more lenient, but he refused to eat at McDonald’s because the child had been eating a large amount of junk food. The boy threw a tantrum, demanding to eat at McDonald’s. The man was concerned that surrendering would provide the child with further incentive to have fits whenever he did not get his way. The man reportedly tried to convince the child to eat elsewhere during the return trip, but the stubborn youngster refused to budge.

Now, the man has decided to file a defamation suit against the psychologist who testified that he would be an incompetent parent. A judge in the man’s pending divorce was told that the man’s disciplinary tactic was dangerous to the child, and the action should give the judge reason to limit his contact with the boy. The man currently enjoys custody of his son on alternate weekends, and they have dinner together once a week.

It is not clear whether the man’s custody agreement has been altered in the matter. The man is embroiled in a high-conflict divorce with his estranged wife.

Parents have the right to discipline their children as they see fit, within reason. It is hard to believe that missing dinner for a single night would cause long-term behavioral consequences for this child. Family attorneys must protect fathers’ rights as they go through contentious divorces, as spouses can seize upon even the slightest misstep in an attempt to limit parenting time and visitation.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com, “Dad Branded Unfit Parent For Refusing To Take Son To McDonald’s, Lawsuit Says” Jennifer Peltz, Nov. 08, 2013