On his blog, “Single Dad Laughing” Dan Pearce wrote a brilliant piece on what it was like growing up as a fat kid, and the lessons he learned from that experience. One of the most powerful points – I think – he makes is at the very end regarding things he would like to change about how people treated him; “I’d ask adults to not find excuses for me or to give me hope in magic”. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading an essay by neuroscientist, Sam Harris, about Lying – it’s a short but great read – where he makes a strong case for telling the truth at all times. White lies, in particular, are very much like that sinister butterfly who flaps tornados, the effects of a [minor] deceit is often not seen or felt by the person who tells the white lie but the consequences can be severe and long lasting for the recipient of the lie. Telling a kid, who really is fat, that they’re fine and that “It’s just [14 year old] baby fat, now eat you pizza, the cheese is getting cold…” because you’re, let’s be honest, selfishly saving yourself from the brief awkward moment of having to tell the truth, sets them up for deep and damaging pain in the future because; let’s face it, someone a lot ruder and brash will do so eventually.
Here’s how I see it, when it comes to telling your children the truth, who better to do it but you, the loving and caring parent? Especially when it comes to fat, and singing – I mean honestly, “[UK] Idols is a graveyard of annihilated self-esteems. Think about it, your version of the truth – I hope(!) – will be much more nurturing and uplifting compared to strangers out there in the real world. If we don’t tell the truth in a warm and loving manner then some rude and inconsiderate buffoon will one day, and it’s going to hurt, and hurt like hell! And think about it for a second, who’s fault will that be ultimately?
Why not be honest when your child ask you, “Am I fat?” How about, instead of wrapping their feelings in cotton, “Yes, you can lose a few stone but you’re lucky because we can always work on being better and fitter, your body is an amazing machine and the more you use it the more fun you will be able to have with it. Now what do you say, play outside for a bit? Daddy can also do with a little extra exercise, don’t you think? Shall we do it together?” Boom! Now you and your child bonded around a common goal and grew a little closer.
“…our kids take their queues from us, so hit the deck!”
That brings me to my next point. Parents, our kids take their queues from us, so let’s hit the deck! I once read a pertinent quote by Robert Fulham which read; “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you”, scary thought, hey? That quote has stuck with me ever since and I’ve seen this play out in my own family. A good example of the power of mimicking is with my eldest starting to train. I train 5 days a week, religiously, it has become a habit for me and without mention of a word my oldest son – age 9 – started to join in from time to time and is now a committed and disciplined “Free-athlete” hitting the deck before me and motivating me even more. I didn’t have to moan, mention weight nor mention working out, the kid just took to it and is smashing it. The same goes for books, there is a direct link to a child’s academic performances in school and the amount and accessibility to books in the house. When my kids see me read, they read – really, no BS.
Apart from the benefit of shedding some unwanted weight exercising around 30 minutes a day also gives you and your family the amazing advantage of literally growing your hippocampus – responsible for converting short term memory to long term memory – which can delay the onset and effects of dementia(!) Yup! Exercise improves your memory, making you smarter and improving your quality of life in the future – yes, we are all going to grow old. If you don’t feel like training everyday try and do it for your kids, consider that every minute you put in with training is time gained in the future to actively spend with your kids and grandkids – that’s what drives me to hit the deck 5 times a week.
Anyway, we can’t blame the kid for being fat, that is just plain unfair. We should look at our own actions as parents and adults – effectively older kids with many, many more scars – and be honest with ourselves and our kids.
Try to tell your child the truth, otherwise someone else will…