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Mom Sues McDonald's Because Her Children Keep Nagging Her for Happy Meals

By HERWriter Guide
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A woman is suing McDonald's because she claims her children are nagging her constantly for Happy Meals in order to get the toys inside. Monet Parham, a 41- year-old mother who works for the state of California is suing the fast food giant, saying that McDonald's has infiltrated her childrens' minds. “"We have to say no to our kids so many times and McDonald's makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat,” she said, when explaining the reason for the suit.

She and the Center for Science in the Public Interest are looking to making this a class action suit. They believe that McDonald’s deliberately “dangles” toys in front of children that causes them to beg and plead for a Happy Meal and this leaves parents feeling helpless and with a tendency to give in. Believing that McDonald's is intruding into a family’s personal life and business, the people filing the lawsuit believe these actions to be illegal. They believe these marketing techniques are done to encourage kids to pester their parents to take them to McDonald's. As one person involved in the lawsuit said, McDonald's is essentially out “to persuade the kids to persuade the parents to go to McDonald's.”

In reply, McDonald's has said they are not doing anything wrong and have enjoyed a long tradition of placing toys in children’s meals in order to provide a “fun experience” for kids and plan on fighting this suit. McDonald's spends several hundred million dollars a year on marketing Happy Meals and children’s toys.

Now, as a mother of children ages 4, 5 and 6 myself, I understand the Art of Nagging like no other. Children are born with a natural talent to nag and I have three experts on my hands. But the one thing we have that our kids do not is maturity and the wisdom that comes with it. We also have a responsibility to use certain words and these words should come from love and concern for our kids. One important word we parents need to use is the word “no”. It’s okay to explain why we say it – in fact, explaining it makes it easier for kids to comprehend why.

Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

This is an older post, I know, but I'd like to comment regardless. There is lots of vitriol here for the mother... I understand why there are these feelings of horror and rejection here- after all, your kids are your responsibility. You make the decision to have them, and you put up with everything they throw at you. And why should this mom be any different from you hard-working parents? What's so special about her or her kids that she deserves to be shielded from the reality of parenting?

Well, while it's understandable, perhaps we should also consider that these tactics, used by many fast food companies, are not just advertising techniques but brainwashing techniques. Even if I turn the tv off, what happens when my child goes to play with another child at her house, and comes back wanting what she saw on their television? These ads are specifically made to be irresistible to children- the companies spend millions researching precisely how to press our children's buttons, and precisely how to make them beg, plead, scream and cry for this stuff. While parents have to deal with this anyway, is it really ethical for these companies to incite your children to throw tantrums for what is basically flavored plastic and the toy that comes with it? I'm not asking about legality here, notice: I'm asking what is ethical.

February 2, 2013 - 12:26pm
EmpowHER Guest


Is she the same moron that spilled hot coffee between her legs while driving a standard automobile?? But then again, she won that law suit, so who's the moron here????"

Your statement is upsetting to me. You are making brash judgements and are speaking out of ignorance.
The lady who spilled coffee between her legs was a 79 year old woman NOT DRIVING and actually sitting in the passenger seat of a PARKED CAR. Try to imagine the following scenario. A 79 yr old woman who probably doesn't have full dexterity in her hands buys a cup of coffee. She takes the coffee to the car which her daughter is probably driving. The coffee is extremely hot and she wants to take the lid off, perhaps to cool it down and to maybe add some sugar. So, she puts it between her legs so that she can use both hands to pry the lid off. In doing so, the lid pops off and the coffee spills. She is wearing polyester pants. Not only was McDonalds coffee some of the hottest coffee you can buy at that time, but it was so hot that it was exponentially more likely to cause 3rd degree burns than coffee at any other place. Polyester+burning hot coffee= polyester fused to woman's skin. Not a very nice thing to happen to anybody. She stayed in the hospital for eight days, underwent skin grafting, and lost 20lbs(20% of her body weight). At that time the coffee was hotter than McDonalds' competitors. McDonalds was previously warned by a consumer group that their coffee was too hot and that it would burn people. The lady filed a lawsuit only intending to cover her medical expenses, not as a matter of greed. McDonalds rejected her offers and instead only counter offered her $800. Subsequent attempts to settle were rejected by McDonalds. McDonalds had already settled numerous suits in the past for as much as $500,000. They knew the coffee was too hot. Rather than arguing based on the merits of the case, McDonalds acted in a callous manner and basically said that a few burn cases when they were making $1.35 million a day weren't worth the time the company could take to make it less likely that people would get burned. The jury awarded an outlandish amount in punitive damages, but the judge reversed and awarded $640,000. Even at that, the lady appealed the decision and settled out of court for a smaller amount, probably because she didn't want the extra money.

Knowing more of what actually happened, I don't think she is a moron. Maybe you might be able to answer your own question.

You, other commentators in general, and even the author to some extent are making blind statements without showing that you have knowledge of the case and the background issues. Some of the underlying issues that I can see might be brought up are actually pretty interesting, and while on the surface it may look like this case is about personal responsibility and parenting, it's likely not. I think an issue behind this lawsuit is whether corporations ought be able to be so pervasive in their advertising to the point that it may cross some people's personal boundaries. Is it okay for McDonalds to employ psychologists and to use cognitive development to exploit the undeveloped minds of children to get them to consume or put pressure on society to consume their products without the will and consent of the parent. Is it fair to allow them to do this given that the majority of the population does not have an understanding of psychology, cognitive science, what they are doing, and how they are doing it?

January 6, 2011 - 2:52am
(reply to Anonymous)

The difference between Cracker Jack and Happy Meals is marketing. If the marketing is too ubiquitous on TV, shut off the TV, or select a different resource for viewing. Should McDonald's be held culpable for it's expertise at bringing it's products to consumers? Parents need to learn to say some simple words, "no," and "not today." In our house McDonald's is a treat, and our boys still recognize the Golden Arches every time we pass by one of their stores. They also recognize Starbucks, Target, Home Depot (they call 'the man store') and other places on our daily route. On the occasions they ask for McDonald's, it often is met with a ,"no, not today." They usually are ok with it, but some days they scream and cry all they need to. Yes, it can be hard to hear sometimes, but as the parent it is your job to determine what is right for your family. If the majority of the population is not capable of understanding that, we've got bigger issues than targeted marketing.
Without calling names, what do others think of it? Discussion is good.

January 6, 2011 - 8:38am
EmpowHER Guest

Is she the same moron that spilled hot coffee between her legs while driving a standard automobile?? But then again, she won that law suit, so who's the moron here????

December 16, 2010 - 2:42pm
EmpowHER Guest

Now parents are blaming corporations for their lack of parenting. The judge should kick her (literally) out of the court room.

December 16, 2010 - 8:59am

I completely agree with Susan. I'm relieved to not be the only one who finds lawsuits like this frivolous. Take some responsibility for your children, and learn to say no. It's also OK to shut off the TV, make them go to bed on time, tell them to not hit their brother or sister, put them in time-out if they do what you already told them not to, and make them eat their dinner at the dinner table.

December 16, 2010 - 8:05am
EmpowHER Guest

This is exactly what is wrong with America today!!! Parents not taking responsibility for themselves. Let's blame someone else for our children's behavior. This woman should be ashamed of herself. I hope the courts laugh her out of the system. What a screwed up society we live in these days!

December 16, 2010 - 7:47am
EmpowHER Guest

This is ridiculous!!! SAY NO!!!!!!!

December 16, 2010 - 7:39am
EmpowHER Guest

While she's at it, why doesn't she sue grocery stores for putting candy in the checkout aisle? And how about Target - how dare they have a toy section? Try living near the Mall of America where kids are begging to go on rides every day. Really? Someone should sue this mother for being a bad parent, take her kids away and give them to someone who has a backbone and isn't looking for a free hand out at every corner. This woman is AN EMBARRASSMENT to PARENTING!

December 16, 2010 - 6:45am
EmpowHER Guest

Are you serious?!?!? I think it's time you stop being a victim and take responsibility for your life and those that you care for. Being a parent means just that, YOU'RE the parent. Say no. It won't kill them. IF you can't figure out how to say no to a Happy Meal, what are you going to do when a real issue must be faced. Collapse in misery and expect another government intervention on your behalf because you are incompetent at being a parent?

December 16, 2010 - 6:30am
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