Rather than point the finger and blame parents for being the biggest evil-doers in the fight on childhood obesity, I’d rather give them the benefit of the doubt.
It’s always best to be open-minded, right? Sometimes it’s hard… REALLY hard. But the truth is that there is almost always a flip-side to that accusatory inner monologue that’s going on in your head.
So rather than sitting back in our lofty chairs of self-righteous and smug judgeyness, I say let’s stop and ponder for a second, the possible reasons why parents would let their children get fat.
Here’s a few that I came up with:
1. There’s just not enough time in the day
Honestly, I often wonder how parents do it… probably one of the reasons I haven’t yet elected myself fit enough to create a mini-human, much less parent one. Oh the humanity! I have 2 dogs (Daisy Dukes and Jimi Hendrix… two Boston Terriers) and I am almost always wishing they would find ways to pee in the toilet because I resent having to take them downstairs (I live in an apartment) to relieve themselves. Let’s not even discuss how the resentment grows when I have to wake up early (what???) to do that before work. The point is, it sucks.
So then I take that little teeny-tiny responsibility and multiply it by a gajillion and imagine that it might be somewhere in the vicinity of the hecticness a working parent of three must feel like getting their kids off to school before going to work. And that’s not even taking into account the after-school activities that need carpooling, the doctor’s appointments that need coordinating, the groceries that need shopping, and the dinner/tomorrows lunches that need making.
See? I’m exhausted after just writing it…
2. Non-healthy food is easier (& often cheaper)
Let’s play a little game of Choose Your Menu.
Breakfast: Toastable frozen pastry
Lunch: School cafeteria burger & fries
Dinner: Frozen cheese & pepperoni pizza
Breakfast: Fresh fruit & oatmeal
Lunch: Whole-wheat turkey sandwich & yogurt
Dinner: Chicken breast, baked potato & steamed veggies
I’m not going to add up calories because there are all kinds of variables that could change the total, and more than that… I’m not a dietitian. I’m also not going to add up the cost because again, that will vary depending on where you live, and more than that… numbers hurt my brain. But maybe you could tell me where Menu One really beats Menu Two.
HINT: Think tic-toc-tic-toc… That’s right, that’s the sound of your day ticking away bringing you back to reason #1.
3. Love is blind
I think there’s this phenomenon that occurs when you agree to parent a mini-human, regardless if you were involved in it’s creation or not. Parents have this ability to look at their children and see perfection. See? They are blinded by the love.
The perfect example I have of this from my own experience is that I happen to know for a fact that I was less than attractive growing up – and this is putting it mildly. I was genetically gifted with a lazy-eye and – it would seem – more teeth than were meant for my mouth. Add to that, a nice generous dose of frizzy red hair and you’ve got the makings of a super-model, right? Ya… right.
So to recap, frizzy red hair, head gear & lazy eye. I remember getting made fun of all the time at school, coming home crying because none of the boys liked me and I got made fun of a lot. And what would my mom tell me?
“But honey, you’re beautiful!”
We laugh about this to this day, but my mom has never stopped insisting that she truly believed that. To the point that I now believe that she believed it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that whether head-geared and lazy eyed or several pounds overweight, I truly believe it can be hard for parents to see their children in the harsh light of reality. Now don’t get me wrong, when I would come home crying having my mom tell me I was beautiful made me feel better, which probably has something to do with why parents are programmed to this love-blindness.
But regardless of that, I’d like to just suggest that maybe this “love is blind” approach is not all it’s cracked up to be. There has to be a point where parents force themselves to truly see their children for who and what they are, especially when not doing so is life-threatening. Thankfully, to my knowledge nobody’s lifespan is shortened directly by a lazy eye and head-gear; however, the same cannot be said for childhood obesity.