My eight-year-old son asked me if he looked fat

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Nutrition: Health

Yesterday morning, before school, I walked into the bathroom. I told my youngest son, age eight, to get out of the bathtub and start getting dressed for school. He was staring down at himself and asked, "Do you think I look fat, Mommy?" My son is anything but fat.(see photo taken two weeks ago, to your right.) "Don't be ridiculous," I bristled. "You are eight years old. You are a healthy, active little boy. You are not fat. Why would you even say that?"

"Daddy said I was getting quite a belly."

Ah. I see. My ex-husband is a bit anorexic, I believe. When I was pregnant with this son, my then-husband began running, lifting weights, playing tennis and watching his weight. He is very thin, and being thin is a priority in his life. I am not thin. Being healthy is a priority in my life. I run 3.5- 5 miles a day, but I also eat. My oldest son is built like me, and he is on the swim team. And he is healthy. My younger two sons are slim, and also very active. Tommy, the boy in question here, spends hours of every day after school riding his bike and tearing around the neighborhood. And he is also a very good eater. I have, in fact, removed most of the snacks in the house except fruit so he will focus on eating healthy meals rather than snacks.

But it is alarming to me when my children ask me if I think they are fat. Yes, we do live in a society in which childhood obesity is a prevalent problem. Childhood obesity can lead to many health problems. But anorexia scares me more. Because anorexia can lead to more immediate health problems and possibly death.

Heather Craven has been writing about her own concerns about her nine-year-old daughter. What kinds of messages are we as a society sending to our kids? (Or worse, how do I keep my ex from sending these messages to MINE?)

How do you strike a balance with your kids?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.