Life has enough temptations and challenges without creating another one. Being fat is a battle that need never be fought. Your baby deserves to be spared that battle.
Yesterday, as Mike pumped gas into our van, I watched the people come and go. Several children tumbled out of the car in front of me. One girl, about 8 years old, got out of the car and began a struggle of trying to pull the legs of her shorts down from where they had wedged in between the fat around her thighs. When that project was complete, she then began pulling on her underpants, bending and turning with the limited contortions she could make, until she had them in place. And then her blouse had to be pulled out because it was also twisted and stressed to the limit by the fat. The whole painful process took several minutes while I, as well as all those in the parking area, looked on. My heart went out to the poor little fat girl.
As the little girl struggled, circling around and around trying to reach places that were “miles away” simply because of the constraints of her size and the length of her arms, I couldn’t help but remember our dog when she was in labor. The poor dog, trying to get away from the pain and discomfort of labor, went around and around in a tight circle, struggling to get away from what binds her. I realized as I watched the little fat girl’s painful and pitiful maneuvering that this will be the story of her life, always struggling because of this terrible, discomforting burden of fat.
Most parents do not notice that their toddler has become fat, and if they did, most would not think that it mattered. But, by the time the child is 5 years old, and it becomes obvious that there is a problem, a pattern of eating and intemperance is well-established, and it is very difficult to correct. In many families, children under 5 or 6 years old are slim, but about the time they turn 7, they start adding on the pounds. These families, in an effort to excuse the problem, will explain that all their children did that because it is hereditary. I know heredity is responsible for various propensities, but heredity has no bearing on the self-image or the will with regards to temperance. I also know that a child learns to mimic those around him.
We fostered a handicapped child for 8 years. She ate what my two daughters ate and played with them. She wasn’t fat, but she was hippy around her thighs. Her biological mom and dad were really fat. I did everything in my power to help her stay thin, because I knew that one day I would not be able to carry her, and I would lose her to an institution. Even with all my efforts, as she began going through puberty, she continued to be somewhat hippy. I am telling you this because you need to know that I do understand both sides.
To allow a little child to get fat or even “pleasingly plump” is doing that child a grave injustice. As they grow up to adulthood, their health will never be as good as the normal-weight child; their confidence level will always be threatened; their chance of love could even be jeopardized; and they will have to work harder to earn other people’s respect—even other fat people’s respect. They will spend much money, time, and energy on fad diets. Their whole life will be consumed with the need to control their weight. They will waste a great portion of their life going around in circles, continually struggling to evade this cumbersome burden called, fat.
When I was a young mother, I had a friend who was fat. She watched over her children’s eating habits and play with the devotion of a saint. At the time, I thought her preoccupation seemed a little overboard. She almost appeared to be mean, but then I was young, dumb, and knew so little of the pain life can bring to a fat person. Now I understand that she was willing to appear mean for the sake of her children’s future health and happiness. Her children were always outside playing instead of sitting in front of the TV. When I called for popsicles for the kids, she gave it grave thought before saying yes or no. She told me over and over that her whole family was cursed with fat and poor health. Her husband’s family also had weight problems. She said that all her life, she struggled with her weight, and she would not pass the curse on to her children. She didn’t. It took me years to see how really wise and loving she was by being willing to exercise restraint for her children. Her children are now grown (slim and healthy) and very thankful for their mother’s persistent efforts.
Mothers usually buy the groceries. Controlling your children’s weight starts at the grocery store; no, it starts with your grocery list—or lack of one. Stop buying chips, candy, ice cream, cookies, and other junk foods. Learn to cook meals and sit down as a family to eat. I guarantee that if you do not allow them to eat junk between meals, and no promise of junk later, they will eat their meals, no matter what you serve. A snack between meals is fine, but it must be quality food. Study and find out what snacks are filling, healthful, and non-fattening. If you don’t have junk food in the house, they can’t beg for it, and you won’t have to say no. Keep fresh fruit in a basket ready to eat. In the refrigerator, you can keep a supply of washed and cut-up raw vegetables that the children can snack on any time they want. Eating raw pumpkin seeds helps keep them free of parasites. Raw nuts are a healthy snack. Keep a crock-pot full of beans warm and ready for an “anytime” fast, healthy meal.
An important motto is: Never take away anything without replacing it with something better. In other words, keep your children full on good foods so they don’t beg or sneak around to steal sweets or fatty foods. Many families reading this already have fat children who sneak around and steal food. Of course, the simple cure is to not have anything in the house that they are not free to eat all they want at any time.
One summer, we had several young girls (11 and 12 years old) come to stay for 3 weeks. Two of the girls were fat. I was shocked to find these two girls hiding in the pantry, opening cans and eating the nastiest stuff—like sweetened condensed milk and sausage rolls. They had learned to steal because they were addicted to overeating and to junk foods. Their habit of stealing food seems to cross over into general dishonesty. The verse, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth,” took on new meaning while the girls were in my home. No amount of reasoning or the ready supply of good food made any differences in their behavior. They knew that they would be in our home only a few more days, and they were not going to change their addiction for us. I hate to admit to you that I felt that I was a total failure in helping them.
Young families with small children simply do not realize how profound and far-reaching an eating problem can be for their child. By the time parents “wake up” and realize this is not just a problem with food, it is often too late to really make a difference. Their problem with food is really a problem with life. One day, parents suddenly become ashamed that their son is fat and lazy, and they decide to fix the problem. When they start battling with the 10-year-old, they finally realize that what they thought was just a weight problem is actually a character issue. Parents feel helpless and blame the child. The kid resents them and becomes more dishonest and belligerent. He grows up and spends his life struggling with, among other things, a lack of self-discipline, self-confidence, self-respect, defeatism, and endless, expensive health issues. What could have been nipped in the bud at 18 months of age, becomes a lifetime curse. Anyone excessively overweight will attest to the truth of what I am saying.
Young parent, for your child’s sake, stop the junk foods, turn the TV off, and take the child outside to romp and play. If you are overweight yourself, don’t pass the curse on with the excuse that it runs in the family. Never make excuses for something so serious. Always consider the situation to be what it is—life-threatening! Don’t end up wishing you had done something sooner. Make up your mind now while the child is a baby, and stick with your decision. If you buy right, you eat right. If you don’t want your child or yourself to eat a lot of it, don’t have it in the house.
Don’t abuse your children with sweet cereal and drinks. Give them the gift of self-discipline. Babies are born with no self-restraint yet have body given to fleshly desires. It is our duty as parents to restrain thier lust until their little soul grows to appreciate self control. Children too young to exercise self-discipline can be conditioned to be intemperate, to be addicted to lust, to live for their sugar and starch craving, to consume carbohydrates for the pure pleasure of the rush it gives them. It is like giving a child drugs until he is 12 years old and them telling him to stop. With the habit you instill, his will becomes enslaved and his temperance never develops. If you don’t stimulate a child’s lust by creating strong addictions to anything, it is much easier for them to develop self-control in a balanced environment. A child (adult as well) who is intemperate in one area will often be intemperate in general.
Give him the chance to have optimum health. Give her the freedom of not having to struggle with living a lie. Life has enough temptations and challenges without creating another one. Being fat is a battle that need never be fought. Your baby deserves to be spared that battle.