Here are some thoughts. You can take what you want from this. You should know that I have ZERO daughters. That I am not a parenting expert. All I am is a daughter of someone. A Mom. A keen observer of human behavior, because human behavior is fascinating and hysterical. Lastly, I am an avid reader. That means, sometimes I find myself reading really dumb shit on the internet.
For example, the other day I read an article that was giving advice on how to talk to your tween daughter about being overweight. I perseverated on this for a while. Now I have something I need to say.
Stop putting your crazy weight obsession onto your daughter and she will probably end up skinnier in the end.
Can we take a minute out of this beauty crazed world and remember that puberty is supposed to be hard. It is suppose to humble the unstoppable child. A child who was clearly the center of the universe for so many years, but now you have to help them transition into being an adult. How do you kindly tell them that the world doesn’t revolve around them while still maintaining healthy self esteem? No, I’m asking. Do you know? Cause I sure don’t.
Here are the things I do know:
In 7th grade I was the sexiest piece to ever grace the halls of Middle School.
Yes I tripped over my cat and broke my arm. Yes it says “i HEART Ben Affleck” on my cast. Yes I had recently cut my own bangs. Yes I’m wearing a full WNBA uniform to school. Yes I have the whole bottle of hair gel in my hair. Yes there are many sad eyebrows in this photo. Any other questions?
The week after I graduated high school I looked like this:
Different person. It’s called growing up.
SO HERE ARE MY TIPS ON TALKING TO YOUR TWEEN DAUGHTER ABOUT WEIGHT.
#1. LET THEM BE AWKWARD.
Pre-teens are supposed to be awkward. My sister and I always credit middle school as the time of personality development because NO BOYS WERE INTERESTED IN US FOR OUR LOOKS. So instead of sabotaging your daughters self esteem by trying to get her on a diet. I mean, getting chunky before you get your period is practically a right of passage! Why don’t you just FOCUS ON THE GOOD. FOCUS ON THE GOOD. FOCUS ON THE GOOD.
You know what’s fun? Being smart. You know what’s also fun? Wiffle ball. Dodge ball. Girl Scout Camp. Trumpet playing. Swimming. Singing. Running. Frisbee. Sand Castles. Painting. Gardening. Taking pictures. Science. Student Government. Guitar. Rain stick. Silly crafts on rainy days. Made up games. Hot chocolate and pixar movies. Hand stands. Roller blading. Ice skating. Identifying birds. Collecting shells…… Do you get it? Figuring out “how to be skinny” doesn’t belong on that list.
If they bring it up. Talk. Support. Listen. Focus on the good. You know what makes you skinny? Going out and living your life. Moving your body. Eating food that grows from the ground. Drinking water. That’s it.
Options options options.
Psych 101 says kids love the control. Feeling like they are making the decision is empowering. You know, instead of “PUT ON A SHIRT RIGHT NOW!” it’s “Do you want to wear the red or blue shirt today?” It’s the same thing with exercise. Don’t present it as do you want to swim or no? State it as..
Do you want to ride a bike, go for a swim, or take a walk around the pond?
Look in the mirror and only say nice things about yourself in front of your daughter. Teaching her that it is okay to like yourself is a invaluable adult skill. So maybe you are already broken? You loathe your muffin top. You eat your feelings. You do fad diets. But don’t put that on her. She’s watching you.
LIVE YOUR LIFE ACTIVE.
Stop saying things like, okay we have to work out for 30 minutes today! Don’t make exercise seem like another gruling life task.
She is A LOT more likely to stay on the soccer team if you show an interest in it. If you make a point to kick the ball with her for 10 minutes every night before dinner. I promise, positive things will happen for both of you.
“Hey! My kid doesn’t like team sports!”You say.
Well, take their interest and make them active.
They like taking pictures… Take them to a pretty park or outdoor area and have them walking around taking pictures. Go to the craft store after and get a album to put said pictures in. Now you guys just spent an hour going for a walk.and a Half hour walking around the craft store.
Just get up and move.
Accept that someone is going to call your kid fat.
I was called fat. You were called something too. Don’t go running into the school throwing haymakers at little boys who somehow snaked past super awkward adolescence. Fat. Turd. Nerd. Stupid. Ugly. Gross. Is this okay? OF COURSE NOT. It’s terrible. But the kids are learning how to be socialized human beings. It’s going to take a while. Some never get it. It isn’t your job to fix that other kid. It’s your job to guide your kid through it. Teach them skills to handle people that suck. That is an important life skill! This is your opportunity to teach your kid that life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you react to what happens to you
Don’t expect your kid to be super active if you are just sitting on a bench.
My dad had four children. All four of his children were the captain of their varsity basketball team. Was this because my Dad forced us to play? Was it because he just signed up us every year and they yelled at us to practice in the driveway? Um, no.
It was because he played with us. If you share something you love with your small child. It’s not rocket science they may love it too. My Dad would wake up and 5 AM and climb staging all day and build chimneys many stories high. Then he would come home covered in cement. Plop down on the rock wall in our yard that happened to be a perfect height for a strike zone and then let each of his kids pitch to him.
I can still picture him sitting on that stone wall. That is defintely one of my core memories (INSIDE OUT reference, holler. If you are up to date on your pixar movies, you know what I’m talking about.)
Show them what you love and then do it with them. Yes, maybe your kid won’t be into it. That’s okay too. That’s when you become the flexible adult and take an interest in what they like. That also propels success.
The difference between “Go shoot 50 free throws” and “Let’s go shoot 50 free throws. I’ll rebound for you.” will change your kids life.
NEVER expect your children to listen to you.
You are planting seeds. Don’t stop talking about how poor nutrition is linked to depression. You can still eat pizza, but your body needs nutrients too! How food is FUEL. Drinking water is THE most important thing you do that day. Tell them they have to “fill their tank.” Remind them that everything in moderation will save your adult life.
Alas, your children will do the exact opposite. They will treat their bodies like trash barrels. They will have erratic sleep patterns. They will over eat. You will feel like you are talking to yourself.
Don’t worry, your not. I hear voices from my adolescence all the time. I am a successful adult because of those voices. But you better believe I didn’t listen to any of them at the time. Sorry Dad! At 18 I knew E V E R Y T H I N G. At just months shy of 30, I know NOTHING.
Keep talking to them. Keep giving them information. You’ll see.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just some body’s Mother.