A Tiger Mom Fights Fat

Parenting books are all the rage these days, but they’ve taken a different turn ever since Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, hit the shelves a year ago and struck a nerve.  These current books aren’t filled with parental angst about the fragile state of a child’s self-esteem or soft lines such as, “Honey, you’re perfect the way you are…”  Instead, the parenting is critical, harsh and results-oriented.

In a recent article called “Weight Watchers” in April’s Vogue magazine, Dara-Lynn Weiss documents how she put her 7 year-old daughter on a diet because her pediatrician said she was obese.  Her methods included withholding dinners, shaming her, disallowing most desserts while she herself sometimes secretly scarfed down Haagen-Das ice cream for breakfast.

The end result?  Her daughter lost sixteen pounds and grew two inches in a year filled with tantrums and crying because she was hungry.  Backlash ensued.  And…Weiss struck a deal for a book tentatively titled, The Heavy.

We cannot disregard the fact we have a major health crisis in America where the majority of adults are overweight or obese and the numbers  continue to climb every year.  Weiss took the bull by the horns with the issue, but at what expense?  What will the long-term effects of this kind of parenting and dieting be on her young daughter?

I know our pediatrician has told us dieting for children is a “no-no” and if there’s a weight problem we should try and hold the weight steady while they grow.  How to do this?  Serve from the stove and not from the table, watch portion sizes, keep healthy food around, be a good example, offer lots of fruits and vegetables, provide low-fat snacks and get outdoors to exercise/play while setting limits on screen time.  As well, we need to teach our children to respect their bodies – they only get one to take care of the rest of their lives!  The obvious difference to this approach is its emphasis on health (emotional and physical) and nutrition as opposed to numbers on a scale, shaming tactics and short-term results.

As a nation, we’re fat.  We’ve got to do something about it.  Michelle Obama is right on target with her Let’s Move programs to end childhood obesity.  Weiss?  Her tactics will only exacerbate an already difficult issue by putting another layer of difficult issues on top.

It’s a “big” American problem and may well be a problem you’re struggling with in your own family.  Perhaps we can help each other by sharing our ideas for a solution.

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