This past Friday night I went out for appetizers and girl talk with my friend Carrie, who blogs over at Huppie Mama. We went to Chili’s, if you’re interested in knowing, and had delightful conversation as we were devouring some delish Southwest Eggrolls and that awesome cookie thing with ice cream on it. We were talking about the usual…blog stuff, kids, working out at the gym. Yes, I do realize the irony of this. We were stuffing our faces with tons of food and talking about the gym, but I wholeheartedly believe in treating yourself! As we were talking about the kids and food, it came up in conversation that I do not believe in saying the F word in front of my kids…
The F word is not nice. It’s degrading, it’s dirty, shameful, and it hurts more people than it ever helped.
I remember hearing the F word a lot when I was a little girl. The older women in my family were constantly saying it. To themselves and I’m sad to admit that they sometimes even said it to each other. It’s a nasty little word that holds SO much power in it’s little letters…
What word were you thinking? The other four-letter F word? No, not that one. In fact, I would much rather hear that than the three-letter one.
The word “fat” has the power to change minds, and even control them. It has the power to make people cringe and cry, think they are worthless, and want to do everything in their power to never be called fat again. Which is why I refuse to say the word “fat” in front of my children, and definitely do not want them using the word.
You may be thinking, “Well, you have little boys, though, Melissa.” Yes, I have little boys. Not girls. I realize that many people are under the impression that only girls are susceptible to body image issues. Not true. Boys are just as likely to have body image issues, although they may not open up about them as often. Either way it wouldn’t matter, though…whether I have boys or girls, I still feel the same.
I want my boys to grow up knowing that they are beautiful, they are loved, that they are free to be what they want to be. Beyond that, I also want them to respect other people and all of the various and wonderful shapes, sizes, and shades that other humans come in. I never want either of my sons to be the kid on the playground that calls another little girl or little boy “fat”. I don’t want either of my sons to be the teenager in a locker room that makes another child too ashamed to change for sports class because they are afraid that someone will make fun of them…and I don’t want my kids to be afraid of their bodies either. I want them to be confident in who they are, shape and size included.
About a month after I had given birth to Little J I took a quick trip to the grocery store. I was at the deli counter and asked the man behind the counter for some turkey breast. He started cutting it, and in an attempt to make small talk he asked me when I was due with my baby? I was really embarrassed, as everyone around me started looking at me, and I felt my face begin to get hot and red. Holding back my hormonal new-mom tears, I quietly told the man that I already had the baby. He said “well, you still look like you’re pregnant”. He didn’t directly say the F word, but oh my goodness, his inconsiderate words cut right through my skin, like the knife through the turkey breast.
I have recently lost over 95 pounds (you can read about it here). Not one time did my husband call me fat. Instead, he supported me through my weight loss journey. He celebrated my successes and encouraged me gently to get back on track when I fell off the wagon. This is the amazing role model that I want our sons to learn from. Helping others with encouragement instead of putting them down with mean words.
Even now, as I am maintaining my healthy lifestyle and weight, my older son will see me getting my gym clothes and sneakers on at night and ask “Why you going to the gym, Mommy?” and my reply is always along the lines of “because Mommy needs to stay healthy”, it’s never “because Mommy doesn’t want to get fat”. Because once I utter those three little letters into his precious ears, I know it’s a different world for him. He will want to know what “fat” is, what it means, where it comes from. You know, the usual line of toddler questions.
As parents, we do our best to make sure the kids are eating healthy food. Their diets include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and not many processed foods. They are kids though, and they can totally get down with an ice cream cone. Everything in moderation, right? Besides food, the kids are learning that it’s fun to go outside and run around, go to the park, play on the beach. Eating well and having an active lifestyle are all a part of a well-balanced life that will encourage them to continue with these habits into a healthy adulthood.
Truthfully, I know the world isn’t perfect. I’m not naive and I know it certainly won’t be long before the kids know what the word “fat” is and what it means. But before the outside world tries to tell them how to think about body image, and who is too fat or too skinny, I want to know that we have done the best we can at home to make sure they are confident in their own thoughts. As a parent, that’s the best you can do. Teach your child to the best of your ability, and hope that they continue to be good people and treat others with kindness and respect as they grow older.
Congratulation on your weight loss..I’m a Mum, and my kid knows about F words…but I understand your reasons!
Donella Crigger says
This is such a great post! I don’t want my kiddo to say it, either–ever. It’s so ugly. I just read through your weight loss story. Very inspiring! I have a lot of weight to lose, so we’re trying to cut back on the carbs and just make healthier choices in general. 🙂 And exercise, of course!
Corina Ramos says
I enjoyed reading this post. My kids are older now but as they were growing up I made sure they never said anything hurtful to anyone. When they were old enough to understand I shared my personal story and they realized where I was coming from.
I think it’s great you’re teachnig your kids that as well. It starts when they’re young. And way to go on your weight loss…that’s very inspiring. I still have twenty pounds to hit my goal and it’s been hard…especially when I crave a Dr. Pepper. 🙂
susan quackenbush says
I was an obese child and this post touched my heart. Thank you!
I couldn’t have said any of this better and I agree whole heartedly. Fat isn’t healthy but it doesn’t have to be hurtful.
It’s hard to make them not use such a word, it’s one used a lot and it’s very general to describing things for kids; but I do respect your passion!
Louise Behiel says
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS. i TOTALLY, ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU ABOUT THE ‘F’ WORD. THE THREE LETTER ONE IS WAY MORE DAMAGING TO GIRLS THAN THE OTHER ONE, IN MY OPINION. I APPRECIATE YOUR DILIGENCE WITH YOUR DAUGHTERS. WELL DONE.
Sandra - The Foodie Affair says
I like to teach children (and adults) a basic rule, ask yourself does this help or hurt when you make comments about someone’s appearance? Be kind, always. Thanks for sharing and congratulations to you on such an amazing accomplishment!
patrice m foster says
I try to be kind and watch my mouth after all kids follow. Its the parent the kids see the most. set example for your child.