of cowboys and dieters

I was thinking about how I really hope my girls don’t adopt warped food and body images from me. I pray that somehow they will follow a different path in this area. In some things, please follow in my footsteps… but not in this. I’ve been aware of this influence I could have on them for years, but I think it really hit home one semester when I taught K-2nd graders at our homeschool co-op. I asked for prayer requests and one darling little kindergartener asked if we could pray for her “mommy to stop her diet”. I said, “why do you want her to stop?” She said, “so we can have candy again.” My heart broke. Here was this mom who thought she was doing something “good” for her own body (losing weight), and unfortunately it was negatively impacting this little girl. She actually seemed angry about this. She didn’t understand why mommy wasn’t allowing candy in the house, to her it just seemed like punishment and restriction. Kids don’t perceive things the same way adults do. Things are often black and white to them… no grey.

The more I thought about it, the song, “Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” came to mind. I decided to hijack the lyrics a bit – so here goes:

Diets ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold.
She’d rather have some freedom than diamonds or gold.
Elusive numbers and old faded dreams,
And each night begins a new day.
If you don’t understand her, an’ she don’t die young,
She’ll prob’ly just hide away.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be dieters.
Don’t let ’em weigh their bodies or scoff at their looks.
Let ’em be happy and content and such.
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be dieters.
‘Cos they’ll never be free and they’re always alone.
Even with someone they love.

Diets like weight related chat rooms and guilt-ridden mornings,
Little toned bodies and fear and jeans that are tight.
Them that don’t know her won’t like her and them that do,
Sometimes won’t know how to take her.
She ain’t crazy, just different but her pride won’t let her,
Break free of what keeps her in the fight.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be dieters.
Don’t let ’em weight their bodies or scoff at their looks.
Let ’em be happy and content and such.
Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be dieters.
‘Cos they’ll never be free and they’re always alone.
Even with someone they love.

Ok, so I’m not a musical genius or poet, still, you get the point. Personally, I don’t have a problem with cowboys… many are more respectable than some “doctors and lawyers and such” lol. I’m also not here to bash or to blame mothers. We have all fallen prey to the lure of perfection. It happens. None of us are perfect parents. Thank the Lord for forgiveness. My point is to make us aware of the tremendous influence we have over our kids (especially when they’re younger). If we’re to change the tide for the next generation, we have to realize that fact. They are watching us. How do we handle food? How do we handle the scale? What are they learning from the way we treat our own bodies? If you have a young girl in your life (whether you’re her mother or not), be careful what you say about yourself (I’m so fat, I can’t control myself around food, I have to diet…etc), and especially be careful what you say to her (puttin’ on a few back there, should you be eating that, you’re getting too big for your britches). I haven’t even addressed how children will influence each other. Maybe another day.

Even if you try to do everything right, that doesn’t mean your daughter won’t fall for diet mentality. Lord knows there are plenty of influences out there to sway us. We can’t do this on our own. We need to pray for God’s protection… but in the end, if they choose to head down that path anyway, we know He has the power to set them free.

 

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