• X  told me “we want you to write about something you taught us. This was of course music to my ears, so I smiled like a proud parent. I knew  their request was going to be educational!!!
  • Y said , “when we first met with you we thought you were nuts, if you hadn’t been so highly recommended by various Drs. we never would have come back.We  were so sure being overweight was just about eating healthy and exercise . Why even the First Lady has a 70 point plan all about Healthy Eating and Moving and the whole country and the media does not include any of  what you teach about Feelings- Food- Mood connection.
  • X continued  “As our child  continued to become more and more overweight we blamed the school , lack of exercise , processed foods, lack of money to buy healthy foods,etc.”
  • Y then piped in “You opened our eyes to a whole new dimension of understanding that kids/people eat when they have trouble processing feelings.”We  also learned we overeat because of our own past childhood issues that we have not resolved before becoming parents.X continued, “we have important feedback for you and then  proceeds to take out a long written list of points they wanted me to write about. This was a well rehearsed session on their part and they were very excited to share this with me. They had worked so hard and learned to change the whole family that I felt they deserved a say.(They had been in therapy 2 years)I promised I would post this anonymously which I am happy to do . Readers this will be hard to read! What do you think X & Y right that parents need to hear this? Are they ready to hear this? (I am guessing NO)Here it is as per X & Y discussed…..We learned from you and changed and we want to offer this advice to parents.

    We think you are being too careful when you are teaching parents. We think you should come straight out with this idea:
    1) Parents if your child is over weight most likely your parenting style needs serious changing.
    I said you are correct in what you are saying, but I think coming on so strong would send people running out of treatment. Both parents  replied simultaneously maybe, but very few parents are even in treatment for overeating or that know this . We believe they need to know the above fact so they can begin their journey toward saving their children together.

    They went on to say, “Families really need to understand its not just about moving and eating healthy, its also about Teaching Feelings, Playing with your kids and changing your parenting style.
    Parents with overweight children need to get into therapy and learn what to do differently. Parents who are overweight themselves need to get into therapy. While their child may or may not be overweight , their children will most likely have some kind of psychological issue.(anxiety ,depression,moodiness etc)
    ( Talk about smart learners, as a therapist its always wonderful to see how much of what you are teaching is being learned and making an impact. I guess X & Y  got an A+ in my psychology course.)

    1/Chances are if your child is over weight you tend to parent with some of the following ways:

    Being in a very subtle nice way ,over-controlling,bossy ,strict ,maybe rigid,overly concerned about others feelings, or very lenient and easy going but overly concerned about others feelings. There needs to be happy medium with every type of parenting.
    Note to parents : You wont think you are doing any of the above,but please try to understand the connection and impact your parenting has on your child’s weight so you can change things.)

    New Book Become a Behavior Detective: Hungry feelings Not Hungry Tummy

  • 2/Chances are you argue about food ,talk a lot about food,control food and behavior .Those actions in addition to not processing feelings contributes to eating issues.
    3/Chances are you expect your children to be too well behaved and have more empathy for  others point of view/feelings ,as opposed to empathy for yourself and for what your child is going through.(Both are needed and your child’s feelings come first.
    4/If your child is overweight chances are you as parents are overwhelmed or depressed or anxious and need help. You probably had a difficult childhood, but think it was great or if you know it wasn’t great, you probably  think your  parents did the best they could.
    Lacking empathy for what you went through as a child or how it impacts your own child’s weight and issues.).
    5/Chances are you expect too much from your children and the only way they misbehave is by overeating.
    6/Chances are you turned your child into “helper helpy pants”, helping others more than themselves, there needs to be a balance.
    7/Chances are in your adult family there are food ,drug ,alcohol  overweight, anxiety or depression issues. That’s a sign that learning to process feelings was not a part of your childhood.
    8/Chance are you have trouble meeting your own emotional needs, so you have trouble understanding and meeting your child’s emotional needs. And because we cant teach what we have not learned your children wont know how to meet their needs. So they medicate their feelings with food.
  • X & Y  are both thinking of  becoming Child Family Therapist. I think they will be great at it!
  • My Comments as a child psychotherapist to X & Y
    Thanks you for doing the wonderful hard work on your families  behalf,having the strength to change and the generosity to share it. I think that many parents will not be able to hear or understand what you are  sharing . Change is long Journey and we can only hear what we are ready to hear. But I wanted to honor your request and I remain hopeful that perhaps some  parents will understand and learn from what we wrote.
  • To help your children read  Book My Feelings Are Hungry  and listen to the song, Music Video:My FeelingsR Hungry   http://bit.ly/g8jB4m  sing & dance to it.
  •  Spend 10 min each day doing the Feeling Town Map with your family at the back of the book My Feelings Are Hungry it will help your family break the Food Mood connection. Also try 24 Tips Healthy-Feelings=Healthy-Eating,My Feelings R Hungry  Written by Ava Parnass http://listentomeplease.com/books

5 Responses to Parents if your child is over weight most likely your parenting style needs changing.

  1. Naomi says:

    I think the food issue is so hard. As paretns we encourage our chidlren to eat healthily but when they are out of sight they may not necessarily choose the best option. I do agree that as parents we are educators and what is going on in their lives affects their eating to some extent. Ava, one question, do you think you can become tougher on parents and say maybe it is to do with your parenting?

    • aparnass says:

      Thanks Naomi you always have something great to say ,appreciate,it.
      Yes that why starting early to role model and teach emotions and portion size and healthy active lifestyle so crucial. So hopefully one day they grow up and know how to live well:)
      Naomi, I could be tougher, I go back and forth. But I am not prepared for the up roar or fall out(lol) from Parents feeling blamed that dont even want to admit Emotions and Parenting style has anything to do with overweight children.

  2. […] the child really feels about his or her life, relationships, activities, friends, school and more. Parents with overweight children need to get to learn what to do differently. Chances are if your child is over weight you tend to parent with some of the following […]

  3. Such an important post! Hindsight is 20/20. I wish I had read this 23 years ago. My strategy was to enroll my child in dance classes (which she LOVED) 5 or 6 days a week, and say NOTHING about weight or food. That was the best that I knew to do at that time. I’m always so glad to learn new things! THANKS, AVA!!

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