By Mirra Ghosh
You know you’ve said it. Out loud. In public. And in front of your children.
In fact we all say ‘the F-word’ over and over again without realizing it.
It is more than just one word however, and these obscenities hide in our conversations every day, affecting the way our children grow up, think, and feel about themselves.
“She’d look better if she wasn’t Fat.”
“If you eat that much Food, you’ll explode!”
In the way that we use them, these are not safe F-words. So how do we know when we’re swearing? And what do we say instead?
As a culture that has seen its fair share of poverty, we are strongly opposed to wasting food. You must Finish what’s on your plate.
But when you fill a child’s plate with an amount YOU deem appropriate, and then Force him to Finish it, you are teaching him how to work against his natural body signals of stopping to eat when full.
This is how you grow up an adult who has no problem stuffing your face even though you’ve eaten way past an amount that’s healthy.
Force Feeding (the Mother of all F-words, and most commonly practiced by mothers)
When you Force a child to eat, you kill his ability to listen to his body’s inner signals, and instead he begins to listen to you. Although you may think this an achievement, you are instilling an unhealthy food pattern in your child.
It is as babies and children that we are most in tune with our bodily instincts. In fact children are more accurate in consumption of their healthy daily calorie intake than most adults, IF THEIR SIGNALS ARE HEARD.
If you carefully observe your child, you will see that she eats the right amount she needs given the amount of energy she burns. But we are so obsessed with feeding our children the ‘right’ amount at the ‘right’ time that we are actively killing the natural body signals they were born to listen to.
Children eat in a random manner, and will not eat consistent amounts. Let them be. A hungry child will always cry or ask for food eventually—AT THE TIME HE IS HUNGRY.
Just as you stop breastfeeding your baby when she turns her face away, you really do have to listen to your child when she says she’s had enough, even if you don’t agree. Continually forcing your children to eat can cause them to develop a serious aversion to food.
Fat, Fat, Fat (the favorite F-word)
“I can’t wear that. It makes me look Fat.”
“I feel so Fat in this.”
We are Fat obsessed. Even when we are an average healthy weight for our height we think we’re Fat. Size zero has starved us of our common sense.
The more you talk about ‘feeling Fat’, the more your child thinks this is important. But the most important thing to recognize, and to remind your child, is that ‘Fat’ is not a ‘feeling’. The real feelings behind a statement like ‘I feel Fat’ are more than likely related to some other issue: sadness, loneliness, low self-confidence, etc.
Talk about these real issues with your child. If you can develop the inner child, she will naturally grow up healthy on the outside. Crucial to this is the acceptance of different body sizes. Not by your child, but by YOU.
A sentence like “She would look so much more attractive if she lost some weight” is loaded with swear words. Instead talk about how people come in all shapes and sizes, and how each person’s unique personality helps to enhance these characteristics.
But to fight the importance of Fat, you have to let go of it yourself. In every single instance that you want to use that word, think about the direct and indirect message you will be sending your child.
How do we stop swearing?