I tried very hard not to judge the way other people parent. I'm too tired and overwhelmed with my own kids to worry about other people's kids. But sometimes, a parent comes along and puts herself and her questionable parenting in the spotlight. Unless you have been living in a cave, you have heard about the Vogue writer who wrote an essay about putting her 7 year old on a diet. I don't know the girl's medical history. Maybe she was obese. Maybe her pediatrician was concerned about her health and weight. But, what bothers me most was they way she wrote about how she handled her daughter's weight problem. She was downright nasty - smacking food out of her hand, yelling at her, humiliating her in public. And she expressed more concerned about her daughter's appearance than focusing on the health aspect of the issue. I'm sure that little girl will be thrilled to google herself in a few years to read about this. I hope being a writer for Vogue pays well because I see a lot of therapy in that little girl's future. Weight issues and a controlling mom with boundary issues? I hope her mother realizes there are better, more considerate ways to handle a child's problem. And I hope she sticks to writing about springs trends and not her daughter's penchant for Snickers.
As parents, we want to raise happy and healthy kids. We are bombarded through the media, friends and family with all sorts of conflicting advice about what is best and healthiest for our kids. There's no one right answer. Every kid is built differently. For example, my daughter eats like a horse and is very slim. People are always telling us and her that she is "too skinny". They have no medical basis for this decision. They just see a thin girl. They don't know that she can inhale a Grand Slam breakfast without coming up for air. Our son is on the higher end of the chart for height and weight. He also eats us out of house and home. But, as long as they eat healthy, continue to grow and our pediatrician is not concerned, then we don't lose any sleep about their eating habits. We have not made food or eating an issue in our house. I don't discuss my never-ending struggle with my weight in front of our kids. If we discuss exercise, we emphasize being healthy, not losing weight or being skinny. I've seen what food battles can lead to. We don't give our kids free reign with snacks or treats. I'm not a short order cook. We give some choices but remain firm about eating what is served.
I'm sure I mess up a hundred times a day with my kids. I do and say the wrong thing. I worry if I am being too strict or not strict enough. I worry that they are fighting too much. I worry that my son will never be fully potty trained. I worry that Sara will always struggle with shoe tying.
But I know I will never have to worry that I wrote a publicly humiliating article about my young daughter's weight struggle. I will never have to worry that scores of people will read what I write and be horrified at my parenting. I hope.