I would agree that it is best not to be negative about my body, and specifically my weight, when my son is listening. However, I have been puzzling over another layer of body image role modeling. I caught a segment on my local NPR station introducing listeners to National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. During the segment one of the guests suggested not only that parents should avoid speaking negatively about their own bodies but simply love their body full stop. Something about this notion really intrigued me. I have spent the last few days trying to compile a fully formed opinion with no success. This is could be a sensitive subject but I would like to throw it out for conversation.Should parents and role models… A. Demonstrate an unconditional love for their own body? OR B. Openly identify things they would like to change?
As far as weight is concerned, my gut favors B above A. I hope to teach my son to have a strong sense of self worth. I think it is important for him to learn to set a goal and see the benefit of working hard to achieve it. I want him to appreciate that his body will work its best at a healthy weight and it is up to him to make choices to live a healthy life. My mission is to model for him that we are worthy of living in a healthy body.
I want him to learn integrity and not be a victim of his decisions. If he chooses to eat only cake at a birthday party but later feels sick, I hope he will be self aware enough to stop and identify it was by his own action that he feels ill. Unless there is food poisoning involved – it is was his choice to eat too much cake, not the cake’s.
I have to be the one that demonstrates these behaviors. I can’t expect him to learn them on his own. In addition to demonstrating how to make healthy choices, I need to be honest after making a poor choice. If I say out loud that I feel sluggish from over eating the very next thing I say should be a positive action. He needs to know that my solution is to take a walk, make a different choice the next time, and/or focus on eating light and fresh foods for the remainder of the day.
I would love to hear more thoughts on this subject. There is a lot to unpack here and I might be completely off base.
How do you deal with issues of weight and body image in your home?