Lately, I have received a few clients who are concerned about their young daughters. These daughters are in the preteen age range and have been in the 85% for weight. These moms know they don’t want to see their daughter end up as a statistic, they are torn between keeping their mouths shut (sooo hard to do for us moms) and attacking their child’s weight with everything they can.
In one of the 3 recent cases, the mom, with the husband’s insistence decided to go the more traditional diet route. They ultimately decided to choose a different professional, one who would prescribe a diet. I cringed, but what could I do? The other two moms, were bright enough to realize that (A) Diets don’t work in the long run and (B) It’s better to have a daughter who is 5-10 pounds overweight than a daughter with an eating disorder any day of the week. For these two clients, I emphasized the fact that these girls were always in the 85%, this was a normal weight for them. I emphasized the importance of making sure we added in some healthy choices, while not putting a huge emphasis on any one food group. I encouraged increasing the family’s activity, as a family, and creating healthy dinners. I assured these moms that their daughters would grow up and become fabulous, in their own way and time.
But, the biggest thing for us moms to realize is that we are not responsible for our child’s growth curve. We can be responsible for the food that is in the house, but ultimately, it is up to our children (or it should be up to them) whether or not, and how much of that food to eat. Just as we wouldn’t say to a mother of a skinny child, “Why don’t you force feed that kid”, we, as a society need to also refrain from blaming a mom of a child who is on the higher end of the scale.
As parents, we are surely responsible for many aspects of our child’s lives, but where they fall on the growth curve should not be one of them. Ellyn Satter, a RD and expert in child nutrition says that there should be a division of responsibility: Parents are responsible for the what, when and where of food- Children are responsible for the whether or not and how much of food. If we can back off, each child will grow and eat in a way that nature intended for them.