Author: Amber French
I have three children, two of which are girls.
We as women beat ourselves up about our weight and appearance and then we as mothers turn around and beat ourselves up about the role model we are setting for our children around food/healthy lifestyle.
I have thought about this a lot and have seen it handled in many ways. I see the women who openly complain about their appearance (especially weight) in front of their daughters. I see women who act like their appearance/health doesn’t matter at all in front of their children. AND, I see many women who ride with one foot in each camp. Honestly, I don’t know who’s got it right or if any of us do.
But, what I do know is that ignoring it completely IS NOT the answer. I have heard people say that we should never address a child’s weight. As a formerly overweight child, I think that is the most dangerous piece of advice I have ever heard. We don’t put our heads in the sand when it comes to safe sex, smoking or drugs with our children. We can’t do this with obesity and unhealthy lifestyle issues.
Why would we ignore something that can cause heart disease, diabetes, suicide, depression, stroke, and a whole host of other “ailments”? We wouldn’t if society could see it as a worthy issue and not just an inability to “control” ourselves.
As long as healthy eating and physical activity is the topic of discussion with your kids, along with the ramifications of unhealthy eating AND as long as we are not just focusing on a specific dress size or reminding our children “what a BIG girl you are” (oh how I loved that one, like I didn’t know!!!!) then how can that be wrong???
We cannot be afraid to have these talks with our children, share our own struggles and triumphs and be open to learning together.
We can’t pretend that we have all the answers (because most of us don’t) and leave our children feeling inadequate for not being able to make smart choices “naturally”. We can’t pretend the problem doesn’t exist, because it does. We can’t wait until we have conquered our own food demons to be equipped to help our children.
With childhood diabetes on the rise and incidences of heart disease and obesity in our children, we have to start “having the talk”. They may think you are questioning their appearance and get mad (I know I would have as a teen) but since when do we not talk to our children because it might upset them???
We need to talk to all of our children about healthy eating and the struggles that come with it. Please don’t presume that this goes just for the “chubby” girls and boys, talk to your “skinny” children. Those kids may be just as at risk as our “bigger” kids because the processed food we eat now a days is so void of nutrition that our kids struggle to stay awake in class, have energy to get through the day or stave off every cold that comes their way.
We need to talk and share and learn from our kids. Invite them into the kitchen and into the grocery store. Ask for their advice on healthy eating and get moving as a family.
Healthy children don’t make themselves and unhealthy adults can learn a lot by dropping the fear and opening up those conversations….
Be brave and be strong your children deserve it.
About the Author: Amber has been in the fitness and recreation game for over 15 years (not including school!!). She made fitness her life because as the age old saying goes, study and teach what it is you need to learn. In other words, she’s battles with some weight issues for many years and wants to share what she has learned along the way.
You can follow her @TheVeganHouse