I’ve been thinking a lot about the words that I want to use around my children. Words that will help build them, not tear them down. Words that will build the essence of who they become as they grow in my home.
I was chatting to my niece the other day on the way home from church. She is slightly overweight and she was asking me how I had lost my baby weight and was asking me about running again, and what struck me most was the way she spoke about herself. How self degrading she was about her body and how it made her feel. How intolerant she was of the place she was in. Words like FAT, DISGUSTING and ASHAMED were used. She is thirteen. She’s at such a tender place in her life. The unfortunate fact is that she has inherited my mom, my sister and my “having to watch your weight” gene…
I grew up with a mom who was always dieting. My mom has always battled with her weight. As such I grew up being very aware of being on diet, taking pills to lose weight and constantly wanting to be thinner. My mom has always been the one to point out if I’ve gained any weight and has always been the one to tell me when I’m getting fat. (She is also the first to tell me when I am looking good!) As a family of all girls we are very weight conscious. This way of life has bled into my nieces fabric of how she looks and thinks about herself. She is not a naturally slender child – she never has been. She is going to have to watch her weight and work hard to have a healthy body.
Our conversation shook me. For too many years I ate (and gained weight) and drank myself happy. I hid behind my weight. I too used words like FAT, DISGUSTING and ASHAMED to describe myself. My whole life I’ve been trained to be focused on my weight and the worth I lose by being chubby. It is not a nice place to be in.
When I decided to take control of my body and lose the weight I had piled on, I decided to be nicer to myself. To use words like DETERMINED, HEALTHY and SLENDER. I decided to change my lifestyle – not just while I was “on diet” and losing the excess weight but for GOOD. So that I could teach my children the way to being happy with oneself by leading by example.
I try use words that build. Overweight instead of fat. Slender instead of skinny. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I have to catch myself and correct myself to use the “right” kinds of words… but little by little I am winning.
Those are the words I wish to give my children.