Why I Don't Watch My Kids' Weight
I have two daughters. One is 18 and the other is 6. I also have a 17-year-old son. I'd like to share with you why I never worry about their weight.
I have a strong belief that each human body is born with a set of genetics that dictate what it will look like. There have been studies that show that adopted children, for instance, inherit their body types from their birth families. And that twins raised apart have similar bodies to each other, not the families they live with.
My children have bodies made from my genes and their fathers' genes. Which means that, for instance, Nicholas is hardwired to be more than six feet tall and fairly lanky. That Adrienne's long, slender legs and round belly aren't the result of anything more than having a mother and grandmother who are built the same way. Ruby has a pear shape, like her dad, with a small waist and wider hips even at six.
Instead of worrying about my kids bodies, or their weights, I tell them on a regular basis that their bodies are wonderful. I talk to Ruby, for instance, about how great it is that she's probably going to be taller than her dad. I encourage Adrienne to keep up with yoga when she gets to college and point out how cool it is that she has really flexible hips like me. I let Nick take an old mattress in the backyard and set up the kind of strange baseball pitching system that only he could come up with and make sure to let him know that every pitch makes him stronger.
I give my kids access to a wide variety of foods and let them eat when they are hungry and stop when they're full. Nick and Ruby are still growing, which means that sometimes they're hungry 13 times a day instead of 3. Adrienne's getting older and her appetite has significantly decreased in the last year from constant hunger to a more adult eating pattern. I trust their hunger and their bodies to tell them what they need, and so they're learning to trust their own system signals.
I protect my kids from the people who told me when I was a kid that a second cheese sandwich would make me fat, or who pointed out to me on a regular basis that I wasn't fat but would be soon if I wasn't careful. This doesn't mean that my kids don't know my family. It means that my family understands after almost 19 years of being grandparents, aunts and uncles, that they aren't allowed to talk to my kids about weight concerns. At all. Period. Not preemptively. Not out of love. Not at all. Ever.
I've done those things for a long time. But here's something I just finally figured out his year. I don't bad mouth my own body anymore. I don't talk about how fat I am, or how happy I'd be if I only lost 100 pounds. I don't buy diet books and I don't have them in my house anymore. Kids learn from their parents' example, like it or not. I want to model body positivity and acceptance to my kids. Every time I get on my bike or head to the gym or get excited about going to early morning lap swim at the pool next week -- they hear me. They see me. Modeling behavior is one of the most important things a parent does. It's how birds learn to fly and tigers learn to pounce. And it's how human kids learn to treat their bodies with respect.
Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.