The question caught me off guard and really surprised me. I have tried really hard to never speak of calories or anything like that because a certain weight is not my pursuit but health and strength.
I never make typical female comments like, “Ugh, this makes my butt look big or I really shouldn’t have that second slice of cake because it will go right to my thighs, etc…”. I have been very intentional to protect my daughters. I know they will and already are bombarded with false images of beauty and unrealistic weight expectations. I never want them to associate their worth and value with a number on a scale. I am so serious about this that I recently even donated my scale. Not for everyone, but I would rather go by how I feel than focusing on a number.
Anytime we talk about food or exercise it is always framed in regards of health and being strong. When we walk to the park I say things like, “Wow Buddy your legs are getting stronger and stronger. Sweating is good, it makes our heart stronger.”
Even recently when my daughter woke early, Jeremy and I were doing our exercise DVD downstairs and she asked, “Why do you guys exercise almost every morning?” My reply, “We want to have strong hearts. We want to have more energy. We want to be able to keep up with you guys and not get tired when we wrestle or chase you guys.” My answer never is “We want to lose weight or be skinny etc.”
Working with teenage girls(being youth pastors) for a decade I saw how damaged girls self images were. We would have girls that we had to watch at camp that they ate and kept their food down. My heart regularly ached to hear the way they spoke of their bodies.
I saw girls even in my first grade class wrestle with body issues. I remember one beautiful little girl say, “I have carrots for snack cause I am starting to get chubby.” As her teacher, I was so shocked and heartbroken. I spoke truth into her of her worth and beauty and it has nothing to do with her weight. But my few words were only a drop in a huge bucket of negative body stuff.
Back to my daughter’s most recent question. I looked over at her and she was flipping through my recent library book, The Sugar Smart Diet. Just the title itself implies weight loss. The subtitle is like reduce your cravings and lose weight and your sugar belly. Oh geez, i should have kept this book out of sight. I explained to her that I got the book to help me not want sugar all the time. I told her that I did not get it to lose weight and that I did not want to lose weight. I am so glad she had asked me so I could tell her the truth. She could have easily kept it to her self and not asked me. I was thankful for another opportunity to speak positive body image stuff to her. Now wanting to lose weight is not bad but I do not think kids should hear parents speak negatively of their body or of their weight loss pursuits.
Kids hear and pick up everything. I found some old school work of mine. I found a new years resolution paper from my 4th grade year. My one and only goal was , “To not eat so much food.”
Seriously! I was shocked to find that. No nine year old should talk or think like that. Growing up I always heard, “Kimi, will eat anything. … She’ll eat it. She has a hollow leg(I guess meaning that I can pack it away), She is like a garbage disposal. ” I guess those comments from parents and grandparents really impacted me negatively. So I try to speak only life for my kids.
My daily prayer book for my kids had the perfect prayer for this post.