I was reading an article in the paper the other day about childhood obesity. With all the challenges that our children are facing now a days I would have thought this was no big deal… boy was I wrong. The statistics were shocking. I never realized all the medical problems caused by being overweight, let alone the fact that overweight children are 3 times more likely to be bullied in school.
But the one thing that hit home with me the most was that they blamed the parents. They have some nerve, right? After all, we work hard to give our kids all the things that we never had. I don’t ever want them to be hungry or need anything that I can’t give them. I just want them to be happy.
But something kept resonating in the back of my mind about being an enabler. Could I actually be contributing to my child’s weight problem? I couldn’t help but think back to my childhood and remembering my Mom telling me to clean my plate before I was allowed to get up from the dinner table. Sometimes even giving me the lecture about people starving in other countries and that they would thankful to have what I had on my plate. I must admit, even to this day, I still feel a little guilty when I don’t finish everything that on my plate.
The article went on to list dozens of products that contribute to child obesity. Wanting to confirm my innocence in this matter I quickly went to the pantry and refrigerator to see if any of the “Bad Food”s listed was on our shelves. Well, to my shame I found product after product with empty calories and ingredients that I could not pronounce. It was true, in an effort to make our children happy we were allowing them to consume snacks that had absolutely no nutritional value. Undaunted I was still determined to prove my innocence by justifying my children’s eating habits with their activity levels. So when they got home from school I kept a watchful eye on everything they did.
Well, I’ll bet you can guess how that turned out. Apparently I have been a bit out of touch with what my children actually do when they get home from school. The kids spent almost all of their time watching TV, developing bad habits that would destroy their health. After discussing this whole revelation with my wife we immediately cleared the shelves of all the bad snacks and replaced them with healthy ones. Then we gave our kids the choice of which after school activities they would like to participate in. To our surprise the kids now love the healthy snacks and they can’t wait to get to their after school activities.
The moral to this story is that we as parents are indeed responsible for teaching our children good eating habits and seeing that they stay involved in positive activities to promote good health. Our kids don’t need another friend that just agrees with everything that they want to do; they need a parent’s watchful eye to help them make good decisions and choices about the things they eat and the activities that they participate in.