This is an age-old saying, but unfortunately a modern concept. We lead fast-paced lives full of temptations and choices, and many moments go by when, if we had slowed down, that moment could have been a life-changing learning experience for our families.
Why do we eat? We eat to survive. However, why do we eat the way we do? How can we teach our children to make difficult choices when we don’t make them ourselves? Having been obese myself, I understand what it means to make the wrong choices. I also know now that I never had a healthy self-image or felt worthy of making healthy choices. I did what I wanted because it felt good at the time.
Hiding the candy, banning the sugar or even providing only nutritious, pesticide-free food won’t save your child’s life, because you can’t always be around. How can you teach your child to make the important choices during the times when mom is not there to tell them what to do, what to think and how to act?
Hiding the “bad foods” only made me binge that much more when I left the house and was faced with all of the temptations of the "real world". I was not prepared. We cannot hide from grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries or vending machines. They are in our lives every day, and they taunt some of us.
It’s time we in America really open our eyes and takes responsibility for the consequences of our actions. Why are we behaving this way? Well, Jim Fay and Foster Cline, M.D., co-founders of The Love and Logic Institute, would say that our daily needs are not being met. As a society, we have not been prepared for navigating a real world that isn’t full of second chances. We have created a child-proofed, safety-proofed, accident-proofed and “padded” world. Eventually, the kids will find that hidden candy bowl and you won’t always be there to tell them no.
I truly feel that raising responsible children with a healthy self-image is the key to helping our children be healthy and have healthy relationships with food. Personally, I do that using the tools I learned through Love and Logic. I can only control what I do and lead by example. I share excitement and enthusiasm about the life I live, including the food I eat and the consequences of my “not so healthy” choices. I do not pretend to be perfect, but I acknowledge when I make mistakes and enthusiastically share what I have learned.
What if eating disorders or unhealthy relationships never existed? What if a healthy foundation was built before the problems could arise?
Children need to feel like a contributing member of a family and society; they need to experience respect, love and affection; and children need to learn the consequences of their actions and how to adapt from their mistakes. So I ask you – are you providing yourself and your children what they need on a daily basis? Not just survival needs, with a roof above their head, but the opportunity to develop responsibility for their own health and personal choices?
Here are a few tips to help parents teach their children how to make choices – and their own mistakes. If you have suggestions or your own lessons learned that may help other moms, please share your comments on this blog.