If there's one thing I've tried my hardest to avoid speaking about negatively when I'm around my kids, it's body image and weight. It may be something you're not even thinking of yet, but body image issues with kids can start early. Now that she's in kindergarten, my daughter has only recently become self-aware enough to start the comparison process that all kids go through, but my step daughter is a teenager — she's ripe for these damaging thoughts to creep into her awesome little brain. I've been trying to edit my naturally self-deprecating way of referring to my body for years now, largely for her benefit (and obviously, for my own).
Why is this so important to me? Because I was raised listening to my own mother talking about how much weight she needed to lose, or how she hated her thighs. When I was young, I didn't understand why she thought these things about herself, and as I grew older, I looked at her, then looked at me, and thought that perhaps I didn't measure up either.
I was dieting by the time I was 13.
It took me years to build myself a healthy, happy, body-positive mindset. I felt great for a good number of years, and then I got pregnant. OK, the first time wasn't so bad in terms of how I felt about my body, although that had less to do with me actually being in a better place about those things, and more to do with the fact that I "bounced back" with some exercise and careful eating. My second pregnancy, though, left me feeling terrible. I hated my body while I was pregnant, and I have struggled with hating my body since I gave birth. It's been tough, and I'm working on it (yay, therapy!), but let me tell you, I do not want my daughter to absorb any of this. I know firsthand what an important role a mother's views on her own body play in her children's lives.
I know we all try desperately not judge other parents for their choice (I certainly do, at least), but concern can sometimes blur the line we'd normally avoid crossing. All the same, when it comes to your own kids, it's so worth it to be careful about how you speak about your body and theirs. But when it comes to other people's kids, it's a line not worth crossing at all, for so many reasons.