Parenting on Purpose

girl_holding_appleAs a parent, you like to help your children. You want to see to it that they do not make the same mistakes you did, or new mistakes if you can stop them. With the best of intentions, you attempt to fix situations, thinking you can make your children’s lives better.

Today, experts believe that childhood obesity and all the terrible illnesses that stem from it are at epidemic proportions. With this news, it would seem like the natural thing to do in order to help your children is to help them with their exercise and eating habits.

Most people would probably say that you are being a good parent by pushing your kids towards healthy habits. It is ironic and may seem counterintuitive, but you may actually be causing more harm than good.

How do you feel when you are told that you cannot have something? Makes you want it more, doesn’t it? The same is true for your kids. The more you tell them “no,”  the more you limit the sweets around the house, and the more we hide or restrict chips and other snacks, the more your children will feel they can never have what they really want. This can make them feel deprived.

Rather than empowering your children to tackle their health issues, you have set them up to feel bad about themselves and actually gain weight from binge eating or eating outside of your tightly controlled environment. This does not serve them now and it certainly will not serve them in the future.

While you think you are helping your children by limiting their exposure to foods, you are attempting to control their environment and behavior. This feeling of control is only an illusion. It may feel good to you as the parent at the time, but you actually have no control.

By letting go and giving your children the control over what they choose to eat, you are actually empowering them.

At first, they may overeat and put on additional weight and you may be tempted to revert back to your unhealthy patterns of hiding the food. This is all part of their learning to listen to and trust their own bodies, as well as their Internal Guidance Systems (IGSs) to let them know when they are truly hungry as opposed to wanting to eat out of boredom or stress.

When facing a “bad habit” that your children have developed, it is important for the parent is to take a step back and check in with their own IGSs. Ask yourself — how does it feel when you are trying to control your children’s behavior? How is that attempt working out?

Then take time to consider how it feels to give up that illusion of control. Recognize that by giving up control, you are giving your children the tools they need to become the unique people they are meant to be. They need to find and follow their bliss, and that is what we are all here to do, parents and children alike.

Please feel free to comment!

© 2014.  Sharon Ballantine.  All Rights Reserved.


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