"I'm gonna tell everyone to lighten up. . ." - Cheryl Crow
The Edge (of 17) and I were talking about body image the other day.
"I've noticed that, lately, you kind of CARE how you look," she said.
"I've always cared how I look!"
"Annnnnnnnhhhhh. . .not really."
Well, I THOUGHT I HAD. I guess the "lifestyle changes" I've made over the last nine months really have changed me. She continued, "You've always cared how IIII looked!"
"What do you mean?"
"Remember when I was in eighth grade, and you and Dad were always fussing at me for getting a second helping after dinner. . ."
Oh, THAT again? My kids will probably hit me up for their therapists' bills . . ."Yeah. Parents aren't perfect. And I may have made a mistake in the way I approached that."
The school had sent home a note indicating that she was "at risk" for obesity. The pediatrician had mentioned she was on the high end of the "curve." And I, not being as smart as I am now, decided to obsess over her weight. We'd gone through the same thing with her brother, and made the same errors with him, too. Only, at the time, we honestly thought we were doing the right thing.
Looking back, though, I now realize that kids' bodies change a great deal between eleven and fifteen. Sometimes they have more "outus" than "uppus" - that is normal. The answer is not to criticize or nag, but to help guide them into making healthy choices and to keep them physically active. Turn off the computer and take them for a walk around the block.
And remember, you have to set the example. While I was busy fussing at them, I rarely exercised and was a regular at many local drive-thru eateries.
We all make mistakes. Today I take her little sister with me for walks and bike rides, we avoid fast-food (except for occasional treats) and purchase very little "junk" food. We drink lots of water and eat plenty of veggies. The difference between where I am now and other "diets" I've attempted in the past is that I've learned to control what I put in to my body and I have incorporated fitness into my life. I do some sort of physical activity every day, and I've cut back on the "whine" and cheese. The results have been good for all of us.
I can't go back and "undo" the baloney we all went through, but perhaps our experiences can help other parents and teens struggling with these same issues.
When it comes to worrying about childhood obesity, we could all "lighten up" a little.
6 months ago