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Way to Teach Kids to Lie to Their Moms, Steak N Shake

Recently I saw a pretty stupid Steak N Shake commercial. I know many states do not have a Steak N Shake, so let me tell you a bit about the place: they serve steak burgers and shakes. You probably gleaned that. They’re actually pretty awesome, and they have chili, soup, salads, chili macs, and all kinds of yummies. They’re not as classy as they once were (meals used to come complete with two sides and seemed homier, slightly more elegant; now it’s basically burgers and fries), but it’s good food for a so-so price, depending on what you get. My friends who moved in states without the restaurant make a stop there every time they come home to visit, and with good reason.

So the commercial goes down like this: a man is surrounded by penguins and he ends up breaking a ceramic one that his wife is actually holding lovingly in a picture (note to other wives: do you take photographs with yourself holding a stupid ceramic animal often? Me neither. Most wives are reluctant to get in photos to begin with, in my experience—let alone to pose so stupidly.). His three children witness him breaking the mother’s beloved albeit ridiculous penguin, so he takes them to Steak N Shake to make them “forget” seeing that it happened.

So… what happened to the thing, then? It mysteriously disappeared? Rover knocked it over? Mom is told that she is senile and never had it in the first place—or Dad buys a new one and no one is the wiser? Any way you look at it, it’s a pretty stupid commercial.

But then it takes a darker turn. Rather than just being stupid, it also encourages us to not only lie to the people we are the closest to—over something incredibly stupid, no less; it’s not like lying about a shirt you don’t like—but to also skirt our responsibilities for our mistakes. Not only that, it also demonstrates how awesome it is to get your kids in on the dishonesty! Now they’ll take this lesson with them for the rest of their lives, knowing that ice cream and food are so much more important than demonstrating their own integrity when it comes to the woman who gave them life.

Of course, if the kids did it, you know that dad would’ve been all over it. Grounding, allowance docked for the price, the works. Why does Dad get out of it?

I get that this is by no means a parenting video. Its purpose is 1. To get you to buy the product and 2. To entertain. That’s pretty much it. But it’s following such a long line of other similar commercials—from intimidating kids to not eat the grown-ups yogurt to lying to kids about cereal—that it seems as if it’s becoming normal, acceptable behavior to treat kids like reptiles to be manipulated in experimentation rather than young people who are learning from every bit of behavior you are modeling as a parent in our media. It’s just another reason in the pile of why we should avoid commercialization and products aimed at our families; none of these companies are out to help us. They’d rather bank on our insecurities and make fun of our lives, encouraging us to retreat to our baser reptilian natures instead.