Autumn said to me in the car yesterday “Mum, you’re so skinny”.
I didn’t know what to say. I really had to think hard for an appropriate response.
After what I could only describe as an awkward silence I responded with “oh, what does that mean honey”?
Twice she just repeated what she thought was complimenting me “you’re so skinny mum” and each time I repeated the questions “but what does that mean Autumn”?
Eventually her response became “you know mum, you have so much skin, we all have skin, it’s everywhere, you know the skin on your arms”! She clearly had no idea about what ‘skinny’ actually means to today’s society.
I’ve been thinking a lot about it since. Was my response appropriate? Where did she hear it? She clearly thought calling me ‘skinny’ was a compliment, that’s so scary! Did I create that?
It’s quite an unsettling thought to think that your 4 year old attributes skinny with compliment. Although she had absolutely no idea what she was complimenting me on it has really re-affirmed how important our language is around children.
All her life I have been conscious of little kids and body image, conscious of being a role model.
I’m very careful never to do or say these these powerful things in front of her:
– call myself fat or skinny
– make a big deal about the way I look in clothes
– say the word diet
– talk about food that makes you fat
– say I look ugly
– grab at my ‘fat bits’
– say anything about other people being fat or skinny
Or maybe I have? Maybe there was one time where I let me guard down and she was there and I didn’t know it.
Maybe someone said I was skinny and I said “oh, thanks…..” Maybe she heard someone at the shops say it to someone else?
I don’t know and I can’t remember but it has taught be another huge lesson on how powerful our actions and the actions of other people can be so instrumental in our children’s lives.
I know we can’t control other people, what they say and their reactions. We can’t control everything they read or hear. All we can control is ourselves and the example we set for our children.
“The same sex parent is the number one role model in a child’s life”. Dr Phil.
If our kids watch us change a million times making negative remarks about our selves in the mirror, what are we teaching them?
If we use the words diet, or fattening when we talk about food, what are we teaching them?
If we say thank you to someone who calls us skinny, what are we teaching them?
I am by no means a perfect mother but I will strive to give my kids the gift of being confident, happy and at ease with exactly the way they are.
Kids are bound to come across negative body remarks one day, let’s just not have them be from the number one role model in their lives.
Let it not come from us.
Have your kids ever said anything like this that has taken you by surprise?
What would you have said?
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