“Mama, You’re Fat”

“Did you hear about what my son said?,” asked one of my favorite moms recently. No, I hadn’t heard, but with that opening I sure wanted to. Jenn has an adorable and precocious 3-year-old, and I love to hear about his antics.

The story she told went like this …

“We were sitting on the couch cuddling up after a birthday party for a friend’s child and I was showing him some photos I’d taken. We came to a picture of him sitting on my lap eating birthday cake and ice cream. “Mama,” he said, “your leg looks so big.” I asked him what he meant, and he said, “Fat. Your leg is fat.”

“My leg is fat. Does that mean that I’m fat?”

“Yes, Mama, you’re fat. I wish you wasn’t fat.

“What does ‘fat’ mean? What don’t you like about it?”

“It means you eat too much bad things and it’s bad.”

“It’s bad? Would it be good if I were thinner?”

“Yes, it would be so good.”

Jenn went on to talk to her little guy about how people can be self-concious about their bodies, and sometimes it hurts their feelings when other people call them fat, so even though he hadn’t hurt her feelings because she always wants to hear what he’s thinking, he might not want to tell other people that they’re fat.

By the time Jenn told me about it a couple of days later it was clear those words still stung. She had gained some weight, and while she wasn’t obese or unhealthy, it was something that nagged at her.  She had already resolved to start a new nutrition plan and lose the extra pounds that had crept on with two pregnancies and the stress of working motherhood, because hearing it from the mouth of her little guy hit home in a way that other motivators never could. That’s a good and positive thing.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about a slightly different take on her story. What does it mean when your little one tells you something you don’t particularly want to hear? What if it’s the truth? What if it’s not?

How do we take the opinions and pronouncements of our 3 or 7 or 15-year-olds (or 25- year-olds, for that matter) and put them in proper perspective? How do we maintain healthy boundaries so our kids know that we’re in charge and are well-equipped to keep them healthy and safe, while at the same time  taking their thoughts seriously, especially when they’re critical of us?

Is “Mama, you’re fat,” different than “Mama, you smoke”? How about “Mama, I don’t like  you to drink wine,” or “Mama, those jeans are too tight,” or this knife through the heart, “Mama, I hate you.”

Consider this. “Mama, my friend says Fox News is way better than CNN, let’s watch it.”

What do you do or say when your child gives feedback you’d rather not have? When does honesty turn into criticism, and when does a child’s criticism of a parent become inappropriate? Does it matter if the criticism is deliberately hurtful or inadvertently hurtful, like in the story above?

Maybe it’s enough to respond with something like, “I appreciate that you shared your honest opinion with me. I’m going to take some time to think about that.” Or maybe it provides a teachable moment for a conversation about the power of words and how words can hurt even when you don’t mean them to.

When I was growing up (oh, how awful that sounds), preschoolers didn’t feel comfortable telling their mothers they were fat. Was that better? Worse?

Please let us know what feels right for your family.

 

Email This Post Email This Post

Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?


Warning: Illegal string offset 'echo' in /home/mamasonc/public_html/mama/wp-content/themes/hybrid/library/extensions/custom-field-series.php on line 157

Leave a Reply

Loading

MAMAS ON DEMAND

PARENT COACHING
& CONSULTATION

With One or Both of Us


Go to AskDrMama.com & AskMamaEllen.com for the scoop!

Phone • Internet • Your Home or Group

Listen up

Trade Ya!

Raising kids can quickly sap your energy and empty your checking account. Here’s a pearl that could change things in a flash.

Watch This!

Learning about mental illness and how to talk about it is key to good parenting and healthy living. Take a look. It's oh, so common!

What You Said

  • RF: Well my baby had her first two bottom theeth at 10 months old and i tought so far so good and then now at 11...
  • ΠΡΟΓΝΩΣΤΙΚΑ ΟΠΑΠ: It’s remarkable designed for me to have a web page, which is beneficial for my experience....
  • sportsbooktop: Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your site. You have some really good posts...
  • Kristen: Cassandra, I get these little white bubble type blisters on my hand that sometimes dont itch and sometimes...
  • discount nfl clothing: discount nfl clothing cheap nfl jerseys free shipping paypal
  • Desley Joyce Brooker: I have a rash, that began over 5 weeks ago on my chest and within days it covered by entire...
  • hotcelebritywallpaper.com: This article is really a good one it assists new internet people, who are wishing for...
  • Paket wisata villa: Hello akan Anda pikiran berbagi Platform yang blog Anda menggunakan? Saya akan untuk memulai blog...
  • download ppt: Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice at the same time as you amend your site, how can i...
  • ΑΠΕΝΤΟΜΩΣΕΙΣ ΧΑΝΙΑ: With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright...

Just so you know

The Mama ButtonThe information provided by MamasOnCall is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but is for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for the health and well-being of your family. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychiatric condition.