Thursday, May 17, 2012


"Mama, you look like you might have another baby in your belly!" Claire said, smiling from ear to ear.

"Claire!" BJ said, "That wasn't very nice!"

Claire burst into tears.  I took a deep breath.

"Hey, c'mere," I said wrapping my arms around her, "We think pregnant bellies are beautiful, don't we honey?"

She nodded.

"And you didn't mean to hurt mommy's feelings, right?"

More nods.

"But Daddy and I want you to understand that other people might not know that you mean that as a compliment to make someone feel good.  So in the future if you think someone looks like she might have a baby in her belly, it's important that you just tell her that she's beautiful, ok?  Some people don't think that heavy bodies are beautiful, and they might be hurt if you told them you think they might be pregnant, because pregnant bellies are heavy.  Do you understand?"

She nodded again.

"But you and I, we know that Mommy's body is beautiful, right?  You think so, and Daddy thinks so, and Mommy thinks so, and that's all that matters!"

I am working very hard at not transmitting my body-image issues to my kids.  I want to teach them to respect bodies of all shapes and sizes.  I'm trying to teach them that they should eat healthy foods and exercise and limit treats not to stay "skinny" but so that they can be strong and healthy for a long time.

It is so important to see the innocence in the things our kids say to us.  I might have so easily been insulted and angry, or hurt and tearful, and I would have turned my daughter's compliment into something ugly.  If I hadn't stopped to take a breath before I responded, what message would I have sent her about her own body?


Cate said...

Yes! We are so on the same wavelength right now. I have been thinking about how much lighter my life could have been & be if I had not been struggling with this body image thing forever -- and that I hope for my girls that they can escape that struggle's weight. Or at least have it be lighter for them than my struggle. I have to be very mindful of what I say and do in their line of sight in order to not transfer to them any of my baggage.

Erin said...

you handled that so well! i am also trying not to pass on my body issues, but it is a struggle and there have been times when i handle comments well and times when i do not. i just hope they only remember the being healthy explanation we use to deter snacks and eat veggies, etc.

thanks for a great post, this really hit home for me!!!

Rob Monroe said...

We have a friend that is trying to get pregnant and her 3 year old knows that. Unfortunately the daughter is telling other people that already telling people that she's going to have a baby sister and even uses a name and points at moms belly. Not helpful...