Who knew, right? Motherhood tends to go hand in hand with weight gain. Your 127-pound body gets pregnant and you gain some 30 to 40 pounds (or more) with your first baby. You throw caution to the wind and decide that finally, for once in your life – you aren’t going to count calories or spend your pregnancy worried about gaining weight. Baby is born, and after all is said and done; there is an extra 10 or 15 pounds hanging around. And of course, before baby number 2 and baby number 3 and maybe even baby number 4, you haven’t had the time to lose the weight. So now, you are a mother, and you are overweight.
This may sound harsh, but the reality is that many women simply gain weight after pregnancy and keep it on because they become less consumed with their own appearance and a tad lazy when it comes to their own health and wellbeing. They immerse themselves in motherhood so fully that taking the daily walk is some sort of pipe dream that there is just never enough time in the hours of the day to pursue. Combine that with stress, disastrously crazy hormones, lack of sleep and poor eating habits and you have what can be referred to as fat mommy syndrome. You have become exactly what you swore you wouldn’t become a long time ago. You may have looked at your own mother when you were a teen and wondered how she got so big. Or you looked at friends, family members and perfect strangers who were overweight and muffled to yourself, “That will NEVER happen to me!” But it did.
As your kids get older, it is only normal (and perhaps wise) to wonder to yourself if your kids are embarrassed by your weight or appearance? And to think about what sort of consequences your weight and your appearance has on your children. Sure, your toddler thinks you are a super model. But there will come a time (you can count on this) that your child will compare you, as their mother, to other moms. There WILL come a time when some kid at school will say, “Hey Charlie, your mom is a fat hog!” Of course, it’s not nice, and of course, your appearance is what it is. But the truth is, based on TONS of research, studies, and common sense that your weight and appearance greatly affects the outlook for your own child. And a little more disturbing is the truth in lending to the fact that your child is probably going to be teased or humiliated because of you, and how YOU look.
Kids can be mean. If you have suddenly noticed that, your 4th grader doesn’t want you to come to lunch, or prefers that they aren’t seen with you in public – it might be because they are embarrassed of you, and are being teased. And most kids, won’t reveal this teasing to their mothers because they don’t want to hurt mom’s feelings. So they hold it inside. Psychologists believe that this is another form of schoolyard bullying, and unfortunately have performed studies which indicate children with overweight parents have more self-esteem issues than those with healthy sized parents. And even more interesting is that many children don’t realize their parents are an anomaly, or fat – until they are told they are by other kids at school. Kids, especially young kids, tend to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to their parent’s appearance until someone suggests otherwise. And this is exactly where the ‘embarrassment’ comes in.
The question posed by this article isn’t one about being morally right or wrong. It is about how your children feel about you. And it certainly doesn’t mean you are a bad parent if you are overweight. However, it should be important for mom and dad to realize that their physical characteristics and regard to health and wellbeing are something that they are quietly passing on to their children. Take a look around. Where you see overweight parents, you typically see overweight children in the making. So what you might be doing by relying on band-aid excuses about diabetes or weight gain after pregnancy, or stress, or lack of time – is be creating a perpetual environment of disease for your children to grow in to.
Suffice it to say that if mom is sitting around eating Twinkies all day, or being a parent doesn’t give a hoot about what she wears, or doesn’t take the time to bathe, or is not invested in personal decency or health – her children will take notice. And while they may not be overweight presently, the odds according to the International Journal of Obesity are high that an overweight parent will likely produce an overweight child. This is what is referred to as leading by example. What example is your weight, or your lifestyle setting for your kids?
Are your kids embarrassed by your weight? Chances are pretty good that they are. They love you just the same – but would probably prefer that you lose the extra weight and be an example of health and wellness. In the long run, no matter what you do – or what you look like, your teens are going to think you as a parent, is a freak. It is teenage nature to be embarrassed of mom and dads. But being overweight and not trying to do anything about it, clearly makes things even worse for your children.