Written by Amie Richards for her blog, Mums the word.
What would you say if your child asked you if you want to be skinny? Would it surprise you? Maybe not surprise you at all? Would you lie or tell the truth or maybe just sugar-coat it a little bit?
When we have children – especially daughters – it is so so important to promote a healthy body image. The last thing any parent wants is for our children to feel inadequate or compare themselves always wishing they have another persons body or another persons skin. However the reality is that this is how most of us either think now or did think when we were children & teenagers, and also something that our children are likely to think too.
Promoting a healthy body image is pretty simple – when it comes to children they are moulded by things they see and the values that they are taught from us as parents or carers, but they are also easily influenced by what the ‘pretty girls’ and the popular kids at school are into and becoming a part of the ‘cool’ gang which usually means being super thin and super made up with makeup – often a parents worst nightmare. I will be sure to tell my children that when mummy was in school, for a time she was silly and wanted to be like the pretty girls so she tried to change herself in unhealthy ways which at the time seemed like a good idea. However the reality is that mummy was really sad and poorly and weak, both mentally and physically. Something she never wanted to be.
Even now with Amelia only being two I often try to make sure she doesn’t hear any negative thoughts or negative feelings I may feel towards my own body. I really want my children to value their health and ignore faddy diets, crash dieting or ‘fasting’. My main goal is that they all have respect for their own bodies and that they allow themselves to be respected by others also. I often go to the gym and I want my children to know that this isn’t because I want to be skinny but because o want to be strong and healthy.
I will always make an effort to encourage them to continually work hard to become the best versions of themselves physically and emotionally – this is something that will only happen if we show that this is what we believe as parents.
I would much rather my children knew that I wanted to be happy, healthy and strong and that they should strive to be happy, healthy and strong too as this is the most important goal we can set ourselves. Happiness doesn’t mean you have to be a skinny size zero and be surrounded by hundreds of friends – happiness is something we feel when we’re healthy and strong in ourselves whether we’re a size 8 or a size 18.