As my daughter stood next to me in the bathroom and put on the tiny bit of mascara and lip gloss she announces that she thinks the crocheted head warmer she’s wearing is “too much” for her outfit.
I look at my wonderfully made, beautiful daughter in the mirror– the one who has gone from a little girl to a woman right before my very eyes. In less than two years, she’s shot up at least two feet, her face has lost its childishness, and her breasts. . . well, they exist now.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that she’s only a child. Not even preteen.
There are non-physical changes in her as well. Her kindness continues to bloom as she cares for her five younger siblings. Her personality sparkles when she make subtle jokes that are actually witty.
I see her — the one God made. She’s becoming who he made her to be. And he didn’t make a mistake in his plans.
But what I hate to admit is what else I notice. I see the little bit of extra weight she carries on her midsection. I see that her body looks too much like mine before I became bulimic. I see her hide her stomach with her hands. I see her feeling guilty when she occasionally eats a little too much.
I see me. The me who would stand in front of the mirror and squeeze her fat rolls so hard that it hurt hoping that they would magically disappear when I let them go. I wasn’t obese at 12 years old, but I knew I wasn’t skinny either. And I wanted sooo bad to be skinny. To be like those popular girls who were waif-like. It was the 90s and I wanted to be Kate Moss.
So, when I look at my daughter, I don’t just worry about whether or not a couple of years and inches will level out her prepubescent body, but I also worry about what those extra pounds are doing to her self-worth.
I see the potential for pain.
I Worry About Messing Up My Daughter
My am worried about my daughter’s weight. It’s freaking me out and I am petrified that I’m going to mess this whole thing up.
I’m scared that I’m going to say too much or too little to her. I’m scared she’ll read this blog and think that I think she’s fat and ugly. I’m scared that she’ll notice my eyes wandering to her waistline.
Because of my background of bulimia and my amazing recovery, I’ve been preparing for this moment since she was a little girl. I have watched other little girls go through this awkward pre-teen stage. Wearing oversized t-shirts to hide the pounds. And I have seen them five years later, healthy and wearing normal clothing. I have told myself over and over again that kids are like shar pei puppies. They bulk, then spurt. The grow out, then up.
But now that I’m in this season of life, the fear of messing her up or hurting her has become very real.
It’s one thing to have a chubby baby. Everyone loves a fat baby. You might even have a hefty five year old, but they still have time to ‘thin out’. But sometime around puberty, people start placing the societal pressure of being svelte on our daughters.
I Worry that Society Will Mess Up My Daughter
I’m fearful that if she doesn’t eventually lose those extra pounds that she’ll feel shamed by society.
Between television and peer pressure, it’s almost impossible to avoid the underlying message bombarding our children.
The pressure for perfection starts at a woman’s baby shower when you receive your first outfit for an upcoming baby.
It says 3 months. That’s the size they should be at that age.
You spend the first portion of your mothering years buying clothing based on age. But when development starts, suddenly you find that those numbers don’t mean the same thing anymore. Your ten year old is wearing a size 10 top, but a size 12 bottoms.
Have you done something wrong? Should you start cutting out her carbs? Maybe you two could go walking together.
The number on her pants is already telling her (and you) that she’s not where she’s supposed to be.
When they are younger they might not pick up on the subtle stress about their size, but as they age they will start to pick up on whether or not they look like everyone else.
Children + Weight + Life =Jumbled Mess
Children are a creation we helped make. We are responsible for them, but sometimes I can’t tell where my responsibility ends and hers begins!
Her body type + her emotions + my emotions = jumbled mess
Snacks + Growth Spurts + Sitting all day in school = jumbled mess
The amount of media that is literally thrown in the laps of children + Bad food choices + Inappropriate times to discuss eating (like at her birthday party) = jumbled mess
Lack of money for sports + that junk food item you let your kids throw into your grocery cart =jumbled mess
The list goes on and on.
Too often, I assume responsibility for my daughter’s success or failure to be ‘the perfect’ size. And that’s a horrible cocktail to drink as a parent. Especially a parent who is still learning how to really be okay with herself, even at thirty-five years old.
And it’s also hard because they are growing and you know they need more calories during these growth spurts, but your not sure what that means. And did I mention emotions?
You aren’t sure when to say ‘hey, no more bread’ without hurting her feelings and totally confusing her (especially when the 4 year old is munching away on her fifth buttered roll).
Do Not Worry
Worried about your daughter’s weight? If you are doing the best you know how, worrying definitely won’t help her (or you).
The Bible says: Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Matthew 6:27
Here’s my daughter-weight-freakout version: Who by worrying can make your daughter’s weight change?
The answer is no one. Not one ounce of our worry can change how our daughters are made. And they are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe who fashioned them after his own likeness.
Sometimes we have to put that statement on repeat. She’s perfectly made. She’s perfectly made. She’s perfectly made.
What We Can Do to Avoid Freaking Out About Our Daughters’ Weight Issues
The opposite of worry is trust. But not trust in our own ability as parents, but in God’s ability. I want to give my “worries” to God, because he’s able to see my daughter inside and out. He can see the molecules in her body, He can see her thoughts, He can see it all because He made her.
1. Worry can’t do one single iota of difference, but prayer can.
The #1 best parenting advice I’ve ever been given is: pray. Prayer shows God that we are giving him control of our daughter’s weight issues.
We can take all our worries, anxieties, and concerns to Him because He loves us more than we can ever imagine. And He loves your daughter even more than†you do. He loves my daughter too.
2. Focus on the inside and less on the outside.
I want to notice my daughter’s artistic skills as she practices drawing her sister a unicorn picture for Christmas, instead of worrying about her current weight. I want to praise her for baking cookies and learning how to become a homemaker, instead of worrying how many she might eat.
3. Get the message in YOU
We need to fight to get the message deep down in our own hearts that our beauty isn’t based on the measurement of our waistline. I always say that you can’t give what you don’t have. If you aren’t comfortable in your own skin, it’s gonna be hard for her to be comfortable in hers.
I wish I could leave you with ten easy tips to help your daughter lose weight, but I can’t. Each daughter is different…and beautiful. Really, really beautiful.
May we all rest in the absolute splendor of the person God has created our children to be. May we forsake the freaking out about our daughter’s weight.
Elaine Mingus is a head covering Christian woman who loves wine, good coffee and stinky cheese. Her favorite dessert is Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake. She’s a Christian author, blogger, and speaker and fell in love with her husband because he had rain drops on his glasses (true story). In her spare time, she home schools her six children (5 girls, 1 boy). Her first novel “Without Regret” encourages women to dream even after life doesn’t go as expected. Follow her blog at: RadicalChristianWoman.com.