A Parent’s Reflection Within Their Child

I think it’s safe to say that as parents, we only want the best for our children.  Many parents work hard at helping their children to overcome self-doubt and insecurities. But what we don’t realize is through our own negative thoughts and self-talk about ourselves, we are sending those messages to our children.

There’s one topic, in particular, I’d like to touch on today and that is our relationship with food.  In talking with other parents, I hear some interesting stories about using food as a coping mechanism, yet there’s so much guilt built up around food.

I see a childhood history that led this parent to where they are now and it will continue to trickle down to their children unless the pattern gets recognized and stopped.

Many times our relationship with food stems from what we saw our parents doing.  If a parent restricted food and was constantly dieting, chances are we as adults are doing the same.

If a parent was constantly stressed and had late night binges on junk food or just couldn’t stay away from the sweets, again as an adult chances are we have the same issue.  These are just examples but hopefully, you get the idea.

For me, I lived with my mom growing up and she was always watching her weight.  My mom in my eyes never had a weight problem, but she was always trying to “diet and exercise”.

I followed her actions, but mine became quite an obsession which turned into massive food restriction(anorexia). Then I would get super hungry so I would eat and then immediately purge (bulimia).

I can remember as early as 11 years old trying the cabbage soup diet and would perform workout routines in my living room.

I remember laying on my side at night as a teenager feeling my stomach and if it was not flat enough then I’d need to restrict more food. And exercise more.

The reason I am sharing this is because I am a parent now and realize the impact I have on my children.  I now live a non-restrictive lifestyle and have a much healthier relationship with food.  If I want chips, I have chips.  If I want wine, I have wine.  I work super hard on self-acceptance as is.

When I work out it’s to relieve stress and build muscle, my boys never see me trying to lose weight.  They know I am trying to get stronger.  They do not see me trying to burn off or feel guilty about an indulgent meal.

Getting to this place Was. Not. Easy.  But it was necessary and it is necessary for you also, if you are in constant diet or indulgence mode, especially if you have children.

First look back to your childhood, what actions did your parents take around food and/or exercise?  What stories did they tell themselves? Did they call themselves fat, say they had no willpower, grab at their body with disgust?

Did they make comments like, if I eat this I will have to run/workout extra hard tomorrow? If they had a stressful day, did they overindulge in a particular comfort meal or drink too much?

As an adult, how many of the actions do you see yourself doing that your parents did?

Did you just have an oh WOW moment?  I know I did when I looked back on why I did certain actions!!

Now think about your current actions.  Do you struggle hard with food and exercise?

What do you say to your children when they are feeling down on themselves?  I am guessing you tell them they are perfect just as they are and of course they are!

But here’s the problem, you tell your child day in and day out that they are perfect as is, but if you aren’t treating yourself the same, then your words do not matter. Let me say this again…..  YOUR WORDS DO NOT MATTER!

If your actions say, I am fat, I am not happy, I struggle with food, I am punishing myself, I do not love myself, I am weak, I am ugly……. These are the messages that your children are picking up and transferring to themselves.

So as a parent, if this is you, there’s never been a more important time to re-write your story not only for you but for your children’s sake.  It’s time to make peace with yourself and become healthier out of love and let go of the hate.

In order to stop the ongoing pattern of how you treat yourself and how your child will treat themselves, open and honest conversations will need to occur.

You will need to acknowledge your actions and why you will be changing them.  First and foremost the change has to be for YOU, to break free from your parent’s stories, but also to change the story for your child.

It breaks my heart to see generations of stories that leave someone feeling less than, unworthy and weak. But I know with all my heart once it is recognized, the stories of the past do not have to be stories of the present or future and that life will change in miraculous ways!!!

We love our children with every inch of our being and only want the best for them, so let’s give that to them by treating ourselves with the same love.

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