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Parenting: Weight vs. Health2:25:00 PM
Image Credit here In Vogue's April issue, there's an article about one mom putting her young daughter on a diet after being tol...
|Image Credit here|
Now, in the back of your mind, juxtapose this article with all of the Maury Povich episodes that featured obese toddlers with parents that said they had no control over what their kids eat, that they wanted to give their kids what they didn't have growing up, and that they were showing love by indulging/giving in to their child's demands.
In response, I want to focus on what I think the dialogue should be: If a parent is, or learns to be, (mentally, physiologically, emotionally) healthy themselves, the greater the chance that they will be able to raise a healthy child, and have a healthy relationship with that child. It's not perfect, and it's no guarantee, but I do believe it increases the probability of having a healthy kid.
Parents should be able to say "I have a problem with food/body image, and I needed to help myself so I can help my kids." And they should have the resources (education, counseling, support groups) available to help make healthy and considered decisions for their kids. Instead, I think we see some people having kids either before they've dealt with their own issues, or having kids as a way to work out their own issues.
Being a parent is not a right, it is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. Among these responsibilities is making sure that your child is healthy. I think the phrase putting your child "on a diet" sounds more pejorative than saying you're paying attention to and regulating your child's nutrition and health. It's a semantic difference--between depriving them (of crappy food that has been making them sick) and giving them a life (full of emotional, physical, and psychological well-being).
If you've been following my blog, you know that I've talked about the issues my parents had regarding food and self image. And hopefully you also know that, more than anything, I wish that their parents had done a better job of taking care of my parents. But like Jack Kornfield says, "Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past." I can't change those things, but I can do my best to understand and contextualize things. I can also break the cycle.
That being said, as a child who had two parents with their own demons, I wish someone (a doctor, a relative, a teacher) had stepped in and said "do you realize your daughter has a weight problem?" I wouldn't have wanted them to write about it in an international magazine, but I would have greatly appreciated them recognizing they were out of their depth and needed help.
So that leaves me with a few questions:
(1) How are parents responsible for regulating what their kids eats?
(2) Should parents openly talk with a child about the child's weight, nutrition, health?
(3) Should the dialogue with a child be more focused about weight or health?
(4) When should a parent be concerned about a child's weight?