Friday 15 June 2012

Will I Prejudice or Protect my Children?

Just recently much of my thinking has been taken up with pondering how to deal with the issue of weight and my children. I have a very real fear that one or all of my children will be overweight and as a result of that they may be bullied, may lose faith in themselves or basically just may not reach their full potential and I find that so distressing.

This image makes me so sad.  Small kids feet should not be on scales!

Anyone who has read even a small portion of my blog before will know that I have big food related problems.  I consider myself to have an eating disorder, I am a compulsive overeater and it is as deadly as any other eating disease such as anorexia or bulimia. I know that my children being exposed to my eating problems is a problem in itself.  Yes I am fairly good at masking and hiding my issues from them but at the end of the day they see how fat I am and they see me put too much food in my mouth. I just pray they do not see how unhappy my weight makes me at times.

Never do I want my children to have to go through what I have been through due to my size and issues with food. Yes in the main I am happy, I am a blessed woman living a good life and I thank God for that but it does have to be acknowledged that every part of my life has been clouded, all the special memories I have also include memories of me being fatter than I would have liked or not finding the clothes I felt I wanted to wear. Who would dream of wearing a size 22 wedding dress after all?

I kept attempting to sort myself out and recently it has not been happening for me.  I am so aware that I need to get well and to lose weight but it is much easier said than done. I pray that one day I will have my eating under control and that I can go through a day without obsessing on food and feeling down about the way I look. The feelings of inadequacy and sadness are not what I wish for my children.

The situation I am in at the moment is that I do not know what to do for the best for my kids. On the one hand I really want to tell them about all the taunts I got at school as I was just that bit larger than the other girls, about how unhappy I was having to buy an adult size 10 bridesmaid dress when I was 12 years old, about going to the doctors for my first diet when I was 14 and about being ashamed of my body when I had my first sexual experiences.

But then I am worried that if I share what was reality for me I may just be prejudicing them. My attempts to help ensure that they do not suffer the same as I did may actually just be setting them up for the same pattern and that would be tragic.

The seemingly harmless remarks when I was a young girl that told me to lose my ‘puppy fat’ or ‘that I was pretty and just think how gorgeous I could be if I lost a bit of weight’ were actually anything but harmless. Here I am over 30 years later scared by them and still believing them every day.  I do not want my kids to think there is any condition to their being gorgeous; they are stunning and beautiful inside and out just because, not because there is a condition on them. The things that have blighted my life might not be a problem for them.

I have been troubling myself over the last few weeks wondering what to do for the best. Do I advise one of my children that they are overweight for their age and height? Do I open their eyes to the fact they are bigger than their class mates?  Do I make comments when I have to buy clothes in yet again the larger size? Would these things help to prepare and protect them?  No I don’t think so. I think they would just serve to set them up with issues for the future.

So having chatted to dh about this, what we will do is encourage lots of fun exercise as a family together, get outside often, limit the amount of treats but not stop them, keep an eye on portion sizes and stop puddings in the main and we will do this for all of us so no one person feels singled out.

As a parent I have a duty to promote a healthy lifestyle and an element of moderation, so that is what I will do.  When the kids ask for something sweet sometimes they will get a yes as I believe it is important that I do not put a ban on anything and lead them to covet it in later life.

I'd seriously love to hear from you. 

If you are overweight or have eating issues yourself, did you manage to keep your kids sane around food and if yes, how?

And if you do not have any food issues what are the unspoken rules around food in your house, the ones that a normal eater would set? This is the problem I honestly have no idea! Are your children allowed to snack between meals?  Do you have treats in the cupboard? Do they have pudding? When do you say no and how?

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