The media reported recently that a mother of three daughters banned the term “fat” to be pronounced in front of her kids, to include her adult guests and friends.
It would be understandable and desirable if she banned this word to be used against overweight or obese people in order to respect them. The motivation was, however, very different from this.
The mother claimed that talking about weight and dieting in the presence of her kids is “damaging to their self-esteem”. She came up with this idea when her daughter told her “Mommy, I can’t drink soda because drinking soda gives you a fat tummy”, something the daughter repeated that a camp counselor allegedly said.
Well, it is a scientifically proved fact that soda actually does give you a fat tummy. Not only that, but above all, it damages your health. This is how the problem should have been discussed: from the health point of view. Yes, discussed, not avoided. Soda is bad for health, and it is never too early for a child to learn this simple fact: It does cause weight gain. Obesity and unhealthy weight in America escalated to epidemic levels; it affects a large part of the society, and the problem should not be brushed under the carpet. It is real, it is threatening and kids are exposed to it every day. An oversensitive mother banning the problem from being brought up will not solve it or make it disappear. Kids have to learn life. The kid should be adjusted to the world, not the world to the kid.
My generation of kids grew up in a politically instable country playing with wooden blocks as imaginary militia, soldiers, and tanks. This was the reality of our times. No adult ever banned the use of the terms “militia”, “soldiers”, or “tanks” from being said in front of their kids. None of the parents banned kids from watching the news either. This was the reality of our times, this was life, and we, the kids, had to deal with it on our own. None of the kids went to therapy because of this, and none of us had “issues”. We learned to live our lives in the reality that was out there. My generation turned out to be a generation of successful adults, building peace, democracy and the society’s wealth.
The kids made fun of me in elementary school because I wore glasses. I was actually the only one in the class who wore them. It did not affect my self-esteem at all, and I proudly wear my second pair of eyes now. They made fun of my friend who had red hair and freckles. It did not hurt her self-esteem either. Kids teased another girl who was slightly overweight (the only overweight kid around), calling her “fat”. They made fun of other kids for being different otherwise. Not only was the self-esteem of these children doing all right, but they also developed a really nice level of assertiveness when they had to push back other kids’ verbal attacks. When adults are responsible, not overprotective, and not litigious, kids develop abilities to defend themselves: That so useful in their future adult lives. By using every small excuse to claim bullying, or damaging self-esteem, American parents hurt their kids’ learning opportunities seriously.
Kids are sometimes mean to each other. This is the way they learn life. They create conflicts and learn to solve them. They solve problems actually really well and fast when left without adults’ interference, and by this way they are able to solve conflicts in the future, as adults, especially in workplaces. Conflicts are indeed solved easier, and do not escalate to the levels seen in America in the societies in which parents do not interfere in the kids’ conflicts. By interfering too much and too early during a kids’ course of action they deprive their offspring’s ability to learn how life really is, something so useful in the future.
Considering this entitled mother’s approach, I can picture her suing the camp for desecrating her precious snowflake’s innocent ears. The next step will be showing guests the door for defiling her oversensitive darlings with other terms related to human physique, intellectual skills, or status that might, in her opinion, negatively affect her daughters’ self-esteem. I am sorry that the kids’ life learning abilities are being curtailed by their mother’s absurd ideas.