My doctor and I had a conversation this weekend with a mother. She had a 10 year old daughter who was a large 10 year old. She was probably around 5’4″ and was about 170lbs. When Mom was asked if her daughter’s illness had caused any weight gain or weight loss, she said, “No. I wish it would cause weight loss since I know she needs to lose weight, but she hasn’t.”
First of all, totally inappropriate to say in front of your daughter. I find it really discouraging when parents approach their children’s weight that way. I could just imagine the shame that poor girl was feeling as all these adults are in the room making a spectacle of her weight.
Then, the doctor tells Mom, “Make sure she’s active and that you’re feeding her healthy foods. She’s only 10 and you’re the mother. You get to decide what she eats.”
Mom goes on about how when she tries to pack her daughter a healthy lunch, she complains too much because her three brothers and sisters get a different lunch, but Mom says those kids don’t have a problem with their weight. The doctor tells her that it’s not about an all or nothing mindset and that she should be able to eat what she wants at times, but overall, she needs to be giving her fruits and vegetables and limiting junk food.
Mom continues on about how she has to buy junk food for her other kids so her daughter wants it too and it’s too hard to limit it. She says, “If I give her the choice of a pizza or vegetables, obviously she’s going to choose the pizza.”
To which I say, “You don’t give her a choice. There is no pizza. You give her vegetables.”
This is what amazes me. This mother can’t make healthy decisions for her children. As a parent, you make the decisions. And not only that, but you make the decisions for all of your kids. Why would three kids get pizza and one get veggies? All the kids can have veggies and healthy lunches. You should raise your kids eating healthy, but aside from that, you should really raise them all equally. You should not make one kid feel different than the rest because they are heavier than their siblings. It’s not some shame game. It’s your fault as their parents that your kid is fat. (I understand once kids can drive, they make a lot more of their own decisions. I also understand that some kids do actually have health problems, but you’d be amazed what a healthy diet does for health problems in children, too.)
It really disgusts me that parents think they can’t take junk food out of their house or their kids will complain about it. So what? So what if your kids complain and whine? You’re the parent! You get to set the boundaries! They won’t complain forever. Eventually, they’ll learn to eat what they have in front of them (and they may never love broccoli or carrots, but they’ll find something better than Pop-tarts and Lucky Charms). The decisions parents make with their young kids last a lifetime. Not only that, but obese children are at risk for so many diseases! Why would you knowingly subject your children to that over food? Food is meant to fuel your body. It’s supposed to be nutritious. It shouldn’t cause you harm.
Jon and I have already talked about not buying junk food when we have kids (you know, in like, 5 months). It just won’t be in our house (it’s not in our house now and never is, so why would that change?). Kids won’t crave candy as a two year old unless their parents introduce them to it. I see so many kids actin’ a fool over chocolate. It’s ridiculous. Why is a kid who can’t even speak in full sentences having a meltdown over something that they never had to have in the first place? It might be tough to stick to our guns since it’s so common and accepted to let children eat horrible food, but I’m not all about that. And you know what? We’re the parents. We get to make those decisions and our children will listen, maybe with some screaming and fighting, but they’ll listen.