One thing that I have been putting off is writing about the girls growing into teens. Yes, I know on the calendar my oldest two are put at eleven and eleven three-quarters (October is coming up fast!) but in reality the teen years are upon us.
Like it or not, my kids are growing up a bit faster than I had to. At age eleven I didn’t comb my hair very often and could care less about clothes. I hadn’t had a crush on a celebrity yet and it would be three years before I started to obsess about music and all things Johnny Depp. On the flip side I was not as well-travelled, well-read or outgoing as they are now. I know that not all change is bad or necessarily good; it is just change.
So I think I will start writing a bit on parenting my girls as they grow. Starting first with how I am navigating the waters of weight, dieting and appearances with growing girls.
Lately I have been hearing comments from my girls like “My thighs are big” “I’m fat” “If I skip breakfast I won’t gain weight”. These are coming from all four of the girls ages six to eleven. I have made a conscious effort not to talk like this myself, and while I’m not perfect at it I am sure that most of these comments are stemming from people at school and some bad media that gets by my mommy-standards.
When I go running I talk about being healthy not about losing weight. We try not to say fat and skinny even in jest now. I had been planning on teaching girls more about serving sizes this summer. There are always fresh fruit and veggies on the table, I limit the junk food (though it shows up more than I would like somehow.). I am trying to get it right, though I know that there is no one set way to do it right, especially with four different girls. Who came up with the phrase get it right anyway…
In pursuit of advice I read Good Girls don’t Get Fat by Dr. Robyn Silverman. I have followed her awhile on Twitter and Facebook and really like what I learn from her. She is also an adoptive mom of two small kiddos. The book is an excellent read for parents of girls and teachers. It reviews everyday parenting at the dinner table and touches on the subject of bullying in the classroom.
The book is packed with studies, examples and great advice. Just a few things I took away from the book that make me glad I read it:
1) When moms say things,girls remember. Even a poorly worded complement (you look like you lost weight) can effect how a girl feels about weight. We are all going to say things wrong sometimes without meaning to, but I think I need to pay attention to every word I say about weight and health. I need to make sure that I regularly give praise to the girls about how lovely they are to off-balance the stupid things that sometimes come out.
2) Listen to what the girls are saying and answer with what they need. Saying “don’t be silly everyone looks different” to a girl when she says “My body looks funny” is not helpful. We need to say. Your body is amazing. Your healthy and active and your body will take you to amazing places!
3)What dad’s say and do matter. The cute nick-names of the toddler days like chubby cheeks should be put to rest. Girls are watching and listening to what dad says. So dads should watch what they say just as much as moms. If your daughter hears negative comments about plus-size women she is going to process it and possibly take it to heart if she feels she is plus-size as well.
4. Learn how your girls think and what motivates them. Trash talking does not work as a motivator for most girls. Girl internalize things, so while telling a boy he runs like a grandma would push him to run faster, a girl may just stop running.
Of course the advice above that I gleaned from Dr. Robyn’s book can be put to topics other than weight.
After finishing the book I decided not to talk about the serving size thing directly with my girls. I’m just going to dish out the proper serving sizes and be casual about it. I’m going to go with uplifting words, good examples and a lot of prayer.
My only real concern about the book was the title. I was afraid the girls would read it and take it literally. I told them that the title was an eye-catching way to get people to pick up the book, and that the book was about making sure girls of all body types feel good about themselves. I still was tempted to rip off the cover though!
I highly recommend Good Girls Don’t Get Fat to read and if you are local, I’ll lend it to you!
(Disclosure: I bought the copy of this book and was not asked to review it.)