Positive Body Image Begins at Home

One thing I know about kids is that they copy everything you do. If I pronounce the word apple ape-el, then my kids will grow up calling an apple an ape-el. We (and their teachers, daycare provides and friends) teach them everything the know.

But mainly, it’s us, the parents who impact our kids as they grow up. So imagine instead of pronouncing a simple word differently, what I say around the house instead is “I’m too fat and I feel gross and I eat too much and look at how much fat I have around my waist stomach where my abs should be.”

There’s no way I should expect my girls to grow up feeling happy about themselves if all they hear is my talking about how uncomfortable I am with my own body. And I’ll be honest, I always have been uncomfortable with my body. Seven years ago I went through the Weight Watchers program and lost 40+ pounds. Ever since I’ve battled the emotional peaks and valleys that come with bad body image.

Some days I’m happy and feel great, other days I sign myself up for marathons because I think I’ve put on too much weight in the breast area or I think people can see too much neck when I wear dress shirts buttoned to the top. This battle goes on in my head every single day but it’s a battle that I don’t want my kids being part of.

I want them to see that I run, that I eat healthy and that I can function even on the days I don’t feel so happy about putting myself on display. I want them to enjoy the physical activities we do as a family because exercise should be fun. I don’t want them to hear me talk about hating myself because I decided sleep was more important than going for a bike ride.

Kids are going to hear enough about their bodies and what their body “should” be like when they’re not at home. Home needs to be the place they hear all the positive messages about their bodies being reinforced and a place where they need to know that mom and dad or mom and mom or dad and dad are comfortable with who they are too. It’s not wrong to struggle with body image but it isn’t ok to moan about your hatred of your body in front of your kids and then expect them to have a positive image of themselves.

I’m a dad who struggles with weight even though I’m “skinny.” But I want my daughters to know me as confident, always there for them dad. So even in times of struggle, it’s up to me to focus on the positives about my body so that my girls feel comfortable in theirs.

Mike is an Ottawa born-and-raised husband and father of two. He’s obsessed with making sure his daughters says ‘daddy and mommy’ and not ‘mommy and daddy’ and with ensuring his daughters know they’re both one-of-a-kind.