Monday, April 30, 2012
As a mother, I am very aware of what kind of message I want to send to my kids about nutrition, exercise, and body image. My kids have been very quick to notice the changes I have been making and have been asking questions, further challenging me to make sure I give the right answers. I have to consider every thought and action carefully, because I want my influence to outweigh all of the messages they are getting from our culture.
As a teen, I became obsessed with being "thin" while dating a guy that was too quick to point out the features he found attractive in other girls when he didn't think I was paying attention. At my lowest, and I mean that physically and mentally, I was carrying only 108 lbs on my 5'8" body. All of the health problems this caused, none of them evident at 16, obviously make me want to ensure that my daughters don't fall into the trap of believing their worth is tied to their weight. However, I have two boys as well, and I know that it is just as important to teach them to respect girls and not get caught up in outward appearances. I want to make sure that my boys are never the ones causing any girl to question her self-worth!
So now, having (mostly) recovered from my unhealthy attitudes about my body and still carrying around some extra pounds after bringing my babies into this world, how do I pursue my goals without making weight and appearance too much of my focus?
A couple of weeks ago my oldest daughter, who is 10, asked me if I was on a diet because, as she explained, she had noticed that I have been keeping track of what I eat and buying different foods. I paused for a moment, and then answered truthfully - "no." Why is my 10-year-old thinking about diets, anyway? I told her that I am trying to eat better to stay healthy. She doesn't need to know that I am hoping to take off some pounds, because I don't want my little girl thinking that is what it is all about.
Today I was driving to the YMCA with my two youngest. When I was asked where we were going, I told them that they were going to play in the playroom at the Y. My two-year-old is all about asking "why?" which he did, prompting me to explain that Mommy wanted to exercise. Again he said "why?" Before I could answer, his three-year-old sister piped up and said "because she wants to be healthy!" At that moment I felt like I am doing something right!