I hope that wherever you are the day is as beautiful as it is here in NYC. We've been granted a slight reprieve from the heat wave and it's a nice reminder why this city is such a beauty. Listen, I know I talk about the weather a lot on here, but my life is dictated by it in every way! And it never was before when I lived in Los Angeles. When you're born and raised somewhere that you don't need to give the weather a second thought, the moment you are somewhere that it actually affects the quality of your life it permeates your every thought! So sorry to say you'll just have to deal with my rantings and ravings about the weather for as long as I live here!
Last Wednesday we chatted about getting kids to eat salads, and in general I love helping kids find their passion for healthy foods. It's one of the best parts of being a nanny. But I think it's also important to take a moment and talk about how we influence the way kids eat through our own comments and actions, in ways that can really affect children on a deeper psychological level. Personally speaking, I grew up watching every adult woman in my life obsess over their diet. There was never a gathering of extended family that didn't include a breakdown of what every person was doing for their diet and a lengthy conversation about what was wrong with their bodies. Not even being dramatic about it, it was always a commonplace and casual conversation. I know for a fact I am not alone here. Every woman I know grew up hearing their mother's talking negatively about their own bodies without a second thought about how that might affect their own child's view of themselves. And to be honest, I don't blame anyone here. With my generation especially there just wasn't the awareness of how our parent's behavior deeply affects our psyches, not to the extent that we know now.
I think it can be really easy to forget that kids remember every little thing you say and do, that when a mother says, "I hate my nose," a kid thinks, "Well, we have the same nose, so I guess I'm supposed to hate mine too." And listen, I'm not innocent of this either! My inner self-hating monologue is always on full blast, letting me know that my stomach is too fat, my cheeks contain multitudes, and I truly believe that if I had thinner arms there would be world peace -- but I keep this shit TO MYSELF when I'm around kids. When I'm around kids, I say things like, "I love how my nails look today!" and, "Look how strong I am!" when I lift and spin them around, and, "I love how I look in my dress today!" And while it may sound ridiculous and conceited, I think kids need to see adults loving themselves and expressing joy in their own bodies. It starts an inner dialogue for them, where they can feel comfortable saying and thinking, "Oh yeah! I am really strong! I love my nose because it helps me smell my favorite things!"
This goes without saying, but negatively commenting on our kid's bodies is just as toxic, if not more so. I linked to this article from The New York Times a while back, and it really struck a chord with me. I don't know a single person, adult or child, who has benefited from being called out for their weight. It just doesn't work that way. The way to have healthy kids is to model health for them, both physically and emotionally. If kids begin having eating issues, most likely there are underlying emotional causes that are causing that, and believe me, nitpicking their bodies isn't going to help them in the slightest.
Kid's don't need to hear about your diet, and when you workout explain that it's because it helps you stay healthy and strong, and let your kids see you indulging in a treat every once in a while. I once babysat a lovely family in Los Angeles where the mother would only eat two slices of turkey for dinner in the months leading up to the Oscars. And you better believe that when her daughter turned 11 years old, she started requesting two slices of turkey for her dinner as well. If we make eating food a joyful and healthy experience, balanced with body positivity, I truly believe we can change the way kids view themselves and get their self-esteem through the roof. I don't need to go over all the reasons why having low self-esteem is detrimental to kids, so why add even a tiny kernel of self-doubt into their minds?
I know this is a really tough and sensitive topic, but I really am adamant that the conversations around our bodies have to change for the sake of our children.