Today on the show we are talking about how to respond when your child says “you are fat”, or “mommy has a big belly” or other hurtful comments.
Most of the women I work with are deliberate and conscious mothers who know not to shame or scold their children for this but struggle with how to respond and communicate to their children not to say this again.
On today’s podcast, I share four strategies you can use to respond to your child lovingly and mindfully without perpetuating the stigma around fat and body-image. As always, communication is key and I use relational parenting to help connect with my children and help them dissolve the charge around this topic.
I would love to know how do you respond to similar comments? Do you have a script you can share with me and the listeners? I would love to hear from you! Find me over on IG @healthbeginswithmom, take a screenshot of yourself listening to this show and tag me so I can give you credit.
Looking forward to connecting with you 🙂
Sending you much love & healing,
Your child called you “fat” or said something like “mommy has a big belly”.
You could interpret this as something hurtful and disrespectful, but also as an opportunity to connect with your child and help them unpack some of the charge and confusion around this topic.
Helping our children starts with helping and understanding ourselves. It is impossible to take care of anyone else when your cup is empty and every single conversation about body fat triggers you and annoys you so much that you explode and lose your shit.
So today’s show is all about helping you take care of yourself as well as the right way, in my opinion, to respond when your child makes this kind of comment.
Whether you’ve gained weight postpartum, or you’re struggling with hormonal imbalances, a thyroid condition, PCOS or any other condition that makes it difficult to keep the weight off.
Whether you’ve gained some weight after having kids and it’s been years since you’ve had them but you haven’t prioritized yourself and feeling good in your own body, because let’s be honest we’re all busy and deep down inside we know that taking care of your body is pretty simple: eat less, move more. Simple yes, but not easy.
I personally don’t really care about fat so much, even though people around me care very much. I believe in long lasting results and self-care is something I want to do for myself, not for my husband, my dad, my mom, my neighbor who’s obsessed with body weight and can’t seem to have any other topics in mind other than dieting and losing weight.
What I do care about is climbing up the stairs without losing my breath, What I can about is being able to play with my kids without needing to stop and catch my breath. I want to be able to dance, jump, run, and move my body without feeling like a stuffed up sausage. Without feeling like I am too heavy. I personally don’t like this feeling.
This is the reason I spend $200/month for memberships at a yoga studio and a boot camp studios. This is the reason I prioritize eating homemade fresh and simple food that will get me energized instead of feeling tired and lethargic.
“Children don’t lie,” said my client and then she became emotional and burst in tears.
My son said “mom is fat” and that hurt her feelings.
First, I think this is a great opportunity for you to have a deep chat with your child (whether it’s a boy or a girl). Even if you’ve worked on yourself and are not triggered I think it is a good idea to teach children how to communicate and what is appropriate or not appropriate to say to people. We teach people how to treat us so it is our job as parents to guide and direct them to be sensible and thoughtful people.
Also, even if you are like me, choosing deliberately not to have a TV at home, beauty magazines, exposure to movies or media that is concentrated on body image a lot, chances are that your child had picked it up from the outside world. A friend whose parents do have a TV at home, a song they’ve heard on the radio that talks about bodies, a walk in the mall raise a lot of questions at least for my kids as they see women’s naked bodies everywhere and 99% of them are lean and a particular shape of body. So if your child called you “fat” chances are that these thoughts are lurking in their heads and they need your help and guidance to process them. Take this as an opportunity to connect and discuss this important issue with them.
By the way, I know people talk a lot about the importance of a healthy body image talk for girls, and I agree, but I also think this is an important issue to discuss with boys as well because these boys will grow to be a man and we want them to treat himself and the women around them with respect, sensitivity and sensibility.
The first thing you have to remember is to detach your own uncomfortable feelings and past hurts around your weight. I am not saying to ignore these feelings or stuff them down or numb them, you absolutely have to deal with this on your own and if you need help with this please reach out to me on IG, I would love to help you get some clarity around this as well as a sustainable plan that will teach you how to take care of yourself and nourish yourself from within.
But, for the love of God, don’t shame your child or scold him/her for saying this to you. Very often children say things just because they heard someone say it and they just repeat it or they are learning how it feels to treat other people, so if you are using shame and punish them you are actually perpetuating the stigma around this and your child learns that body fat is how they judge people – if a person is thin they’re “good” if a person is fat they’re “bad”. The beauty of childhood is that they don’t yet have the years-long baggage they’ve been carrying around not knowing how to process. With kids, you have to accept what they say at face value. This is the same with other hurtful sayings like “I hate you mom/dad”, “I want to kill you”, “I want to break this house”, etc. Children say things because they are learning to express how they feel, and it is absolutely crucial to hear them out and acknowledge what they feel and say without projecting your own insecurities on to them.
Here are some examples of things you can tell your child if they called you “fat” or even if they said this about themselves.
- Human beings are children of God and it is not right to see a person just as a chunk of meat. People are so much more than their bodies, we are whole and complete with personalities, intellects and other interests when you say someone “you are fat” you are being disrespectful to their humanity and beauty of their soul. Instead what you can say is “I love how to take care of me mommy”, “I love that I was in your tummy mommy”, “it is so cool that I lived inside of your body for nine months!”.
- We are not FAT we have fat. All human beings have fat and it helps to keep our body temperature stable and protects our muscles and bones. Fat is a very important macronutrient that human beings need in order to stay alive. We don’t judge people based on how much fat they have, our bodies are given to us by God and we can’t choose what kind of body we are going to get. So it is not right to judge a person based on their physical appearance. We are all beautiful and perfect just the way we are. When you are able to see a person beyond their body shape or size you are showing your humanity and soul. This is something that I would like you to be very proud of as that makes you who you are, not your body weight.
- After having a deep chat with them about this, and teaching them not only what not to say, but also what to say, open up the conversation even further (if appropriate, of course). Say something like, “I’m curious where did you hear this?”, Or “have you heard someone else say this to you or to someone else?” and then stop talking and listen!! You might be surprised as to what they say. I’ve had countless conversations about this topic with my kids and I was able to discover many shady conversations they’ve had with people in our close family circle about fat. Unfortunately, this is not something I or you have control over, we can’t change people, what we do have control over how we respond and what we think is right and wrong. One of the hardest things for me to teach my kids is to advocate for themselves in front of an adult, not so much children, but especially grown-ups who help me raise them – grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, their friends’ parents. It’s definitely a struggle, but one that has to be front and center, especially when we are raising daughters.
- Where could your child have picked this up? Check yourself, be honest with yourself, do you look at yourself in the mirror a lot? Do you talk to yourself and about yourself negatively? Do you say things like “I’m too fat for this dress”, “I can’t eat that”, “he needs to lose weight”? ”This could be a wake-up call for you if you do have this pattern, as something to look into and heal from. This could be a generational pattern you’ve picked up as well and can be used as an opportunity to break from and change the mindset around in your lineage.