It goes without saying that I don’t believe there is a fat-kids problem. There might be a kids-spend-too-much-time-playing-passively problem. Or a getting-nutritious-food-into-kids problem. But those problems affect kids of all sizes. Fat kids aren’t a problem. They’re children for fuck’s sake. Human children, with human rights.
So, I thought I’d write today something for parents who are concerned with their kids health. A manifesto, if you will, for parents who want to open a dialogue that doesn’t lead to lifelong self-hatred and future therapy bills.
First the no-nos:
1. Do not, ever, sit your child down and start a dialogue with any variation of, “Sweetheart, we need to talk about your weight.” No matter how many times you tell your child that you’re doing this for their own good and because you love them, and indeed no matter how much you love them, this will do far more damage than good. Every. Single. Time.”
2. If your children range in size, as children often do, please do not make a special effort to get one to eat his or her vegetables and limit his or her Xbox time, while holding up the other as an example. Please don’t. Just don’t.
3. Don’t equate your child’s body size with his or her value. No offering money for pounds lost. Don’t wait to buy your kid new clothes until they’ve lost some weight. And please, try not to give your hungry child a disapproving look when he or she eats. Hunger is normal. Even for fat people who, believe it or not, cannot comfortably live on their fat stores alone. Don’t praise weight loss. Don’t wring your hands over weight gain.