5 ways to parent your child through diet culture

Okay, let’s all just assume for a hot minute that I am recovered, or have been in recovery, for several years. I have been very intentionally teaching my daughter truths near and dear to my heart:

  • All bodies are good bodies
  • Size diversity is natural and good
  • Diet culture is a twisted way that our society views “health” – it’s stupid, harmful, and false

Then, my daughter enters the…dum da dum…public school system. At the tender age of KINDERGARTEN, my daughter becomes afraid to eat a cheeseburger and says, “Mommy, I have to run after I eat so I don’t get fat.”

After the RAGE has some time to settle into rational thinking, I sit down to draft an email to the gym teacher, who I have no relationship with. What do I say?

Well, here’s one advantage of having my first (and only, thankyouverymuch) kid at the geriatric (my insurance’s term, not mine) age of 38: I get to learn from all my friends who go through these things first.

Roommate has actually had this happen, as of this past weekend, and it led me to face the terrifying truth: I will be dealing with not only keeping myself protected from the craziness and bull crap that is our culture’s view of “good health” (i.e. thin, restriction of foods, and forced exercise), but I’m responsible for protecting my tiny human as well.

Learned from Roommate, here are:

  1. Create space for your kids to ask questions & ask them questions – Roommate takes time EVERY DAY to ask her kids what’s going on in their lives, and she creates accepting space for honest answers
  2. Listen to your kids and pay attention – Roommate was in tune enough that when her daughter said this to her at a busy restaurant, she heard the off-hand (to daughter) comment and HEARD it for what it was…a lie her daughter had picked up somewhere that is very damaging. She also gathered information, asking her daughter where and from whom she heard this.
  3. Feel your feelings – Roommate was (rightfully and understandably) PISSED OFF. Who was this person who had teaching authority over her child and had used it to teach her this nonsense? Get angry.
  4. Take time to process – Roommate spent the weekend sharing the story with those who could help her to formulate a process moving forward. Her initial thought was to blast the principal with a stern condemnation of the gym teacher, but upon taking the weekend, she was able to process her feelings and how best to get the solution she wants.
  5. Ask your village to help – In thinking things through over the weekend, Roommate enlisted the advice of those she trusted to help her with how to write an email that communicated her concerns and a call to action that would (hopefully) get the teacher on board, rather than make her defensive.

Roommate is sending her email to teacher today, so we will continue our lesson, I’m sure.

I live in a society that has contributed significantly to my development of an eating disorder. It is cruel and terribly lonely. LK has a number of factors suggesting she could end up with an eating disorder, including her mother’s genetics and the diet culture that surrounds us.

I’m determined to do everything I can to protect LK from the strongholds of our culture’s beauty ideals and false definitions of health. For that, I am daily choosing recovery for myself and will need to strap on all my courage to fight for her too.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Em says:

    Thanks for posting this. It’s important. The things we teach our kids are vital and they pick up even off the cuff remarks. I’m glad you and your friend are addressing this.

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