Raising the Bar for Raising Children
I’d like to think that I’m the type of mother who teaches her children that their appearance does not determine their worth, but it has come to my attention that this may not be the case.
I recently took my children out for ice cream. I let them select their sundaes, I paid, and we sat down. Just as they were about to dig in, my daughter turned to me. “Where is your sundae, Mommy?”
I looked at her like she’d just offered me a hit off a crack pipe. “I can’t eat that.”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I regretted them. Why did I say that? More importantly, why did I think that?
I’d like to blame the media or peer pressure for whatever insecurities or food issues my children may have, but at that moment, I realized that I was a part of the problem. I can’t teach my children that their appearance does not determine their worth if I don’t believe that about myself. Children aren’t stupid; if there is a disconnect between what we say we believe and the way we behave, they know that behavior is the true measure of our values. I need to make some changes, and it’s not enough to change my behavior. I need to examine the internal beliefs that motivate my behavior. I need to change from the inside out.
I could learn a lot from my children. They don’t love me more when I lose five pounds, and they don’t love me less when I gain it. What they do enjoy is sharing a warm summer day with me and feeling like we are all having fun together. They like it when Mommy isn’t rushing them to finish their ice cream so she can go home and eat an individual serving size bag of Pop Chips.
Next time I take my children out for a treat, I’ll order myself an ice cream sundae, too. While I’m savoring the dessert and the company, I will remind myself that the scale does not determine my value. I will teach my children that kindness matters, and that starts with being kind to myself.
Are you unintentionally sending the wrong messages to your children? What needs to change so that you can send the right messages?