Where, oh where, is common sense? The weight-loss tale chronicled in Vogue just infuriates me. A wacked mother with severe self-image/weight issues of her own allows her daughter to become obese. Yes, I believe it lies firmly at her feet in the first place. This is a rich socialite in New York City, who obviously has the funds to provide healthy meals and fun activities for a child. So how did her child, whom I consider a “deprived little rich girl” become obese in the first place? Parental neglect and indifference. Truly the only answer.
A healthy child, fed nutritious food and encouraged to have fun via active play, will find a healthy, balanced weight. Not all children are twigs. Not all are petite and runway-model thin. Some children are biologically build more “solid” than others. Some very healthy, breast-fed babies are quite chubby. That doesn’t mean they are destined to be obese adults.
Distracted parents who throw mounds of sugar-laden, fat-filled food at their children, often in lieu of actually spending time with them, are the culprits. They’re afraid, or unwilling, to take on the challenge of a picky eater, or to lead by example and eat properly themselves. Trying to force a kid to eat peas, while the adult noshes on brie and crackers is abusive, in my book.
My eldest was a picky eater — mainly to get attention. We eat fairly healthy overall (yes we should eat more veggies), but it was getting nuts. More accurately, I was getting nuts, about it.
I bought a book I highly recommend: How to Get Your Kid to Eat, But Not Too Much, by Ellyn Satter. It took the fight out of meals. They get some control — peas or carrots? Where on the plate? Then the parent backs off. We both get control. It works in other areas too: Green shirt or blue? Does it matter? Let them wear whatever.
The other part of the equation: Fun activity. Organized sports is just one option. Lifelong love of activity really starts in infant hood. Actively play in the house, in the yard and at the park WITH a child. Chase them around, play tag, play hide-and-seek. Its exercise for both. As they grow, try gymnastics, dance, swimming. Go hiking; teach them to ride a bike. Kids don’t have to be particularly athletic to learn to enjoy playing — and they’ll enjoy it more if a parent does it WITH them. Good examples.
The horrible mother in the Vogue story never talks about activity. She projects her problems on her child, setting up a lifetime struggle for the poor girl. The stress alone will have her end up in therapy.
Parents need to be parents — the caretaker, the guidance counselor and the camp counselor. We teach our children how to behave. We set the limits. French parents aren’t better — they’re actually PARENTING. Lots of American parents do this too. Unfortunately, the children we hear about — and see — are out of control in public. No one notices the good kid. The brat — yes. It’s a plea for attention, a plea for learning self-control. Children need — and want — limits. They’re begging parents to show they care by paying attention and keeping them safe. Granted a child doesn’t always appreciate being thwarted at the time. In the long run, though, reasonable limits really do make children understand that you care enough to impose them.
Rant done. For the moment!