Do AS I’m Doing!


Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

By Dorothy Law Nolte (1924-2005)

I first read this poem when my oldest daughter was about 4 years old and I thought, “Crap!  I’ve already messed up….” Three more kids have come in to the mix and I’m still learning and haven’t gotten everything down pat, but I’m still trying.  I see a few of these points and I judge and critique my parenting ability based on how my kid’s personalities have played out.  Luckily, most kids are more forgiving than adults (in my experience) and I can apologize and change my ways and hopefully my kids won’t hold it against me.

Children learn what they live.  Do you or your spouse frequently skip meals?  Do you set a plate up for your kids and duck out to finish some work or mow the lawn before it gets dark?  Are you constantly on a diet?  Have you ever looked in the mirror with your child standing there and said, “I look fat?”  Do you avoid a particular food group?  Do your kids see you counting calories and obsessing over everything that goes into your mouth?  Are your remarks about other’s bodies judgmental?

I recently read a “letter” from a daughter to her mother. The daughter idolized her mother, thought she was glamorous like a movie star when she dressed up, until one day while looking in the mirror the mother told her daughter, “Look at you so thin, beautiful and lovely and I’m fat, horrible and ugly.”

That daughter learned three painful  lessons that day.  1) mom must be fat, because mom’s don’t lie. 2) fat and ugly are horrible. 3) When I grown up I will look like mom and be fat, ugly and horrible.

I myself remember having body image issues.  Being a cheerleader at college was fun, until weigh-ins kept me from cheering for a couple games.  My coach kept telling me I needed to lose weight, but never offered me the tools as to how to do it. I tried crazy diets, starvation, sucking jolly ranchers and spitting the night before the weigh-in so I could “make it.”  I ran sprints and climbed bleachers and lifted weights.  For a short period of time I became bulimic.   I hated those disapproving, shameful looks from the coach and the other girls on the cheer squad and I began to hate myself for being so fat.   I didn’t know it then, but I look back at what was the beginning of my endocrine problems; pituitary amenorrhea, which lead to POV (pre-mature ovarian failure) and hypothyroidism.

Over 20 years have passed and sometimes I find myself wanting to let all of those people know,  “THAT’S WHY I COULDN’T LOSE THE WEIGHT-I WASN’T FAT AND LAZY!!”

But I avoided the cheer leading reunion a few years ago because I was so embarrassed to see those people again because of how fat I had become while on the squad at……..130 lbs. My self-esteem took a gigantic hit that first year of college.  It’s pretty sad to think that at 130 lbs I was made to believe I was worthless if I couldn’t make weight.

As a mom of 4 kids, 3 of whom are daughters….I choose my words wisely.  I never call myself fat even though I have felt it at times.   I never claim to be on a diet-even though I cut out junk food.  They see that mom exercises and eats healthy.  Yes, they get tired of hearing about my health kicks, but it’s in the name of health-NOT OBSESSIVE VANITY and fitting into a teeny bopper size.  I certainly don’t want my son growing up thinking he has to have a trophy wife and I don’t want any of those women, daughters or inlaw to have the pressure of perfection… yes!

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and so does health.  I’ve seen bigger women finish half-marathons and lug big boxes, chase kids at the beach and still have energy enough for their man at the end of the day….okay I’ve only heard that from friends-not seen it!…TMI!!

Not all of us have the body we had in high school.  Some people don’t want that body anyway!  I don’t think we have to learn to love our body. I don’t love that my thyroid is being attacked by my immune system.  I don’t  love being short and I don’t love that my joints ache from time to time. But I do think we need to just do our best to keep ourselves healthy with good food and exercise and accept that if we are doing everything we possibly can-other than starving ourselves…..we are doing enough.

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