Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Kids Are Hungry!!

“Food! Food! Food! It stables your body and alternates your mood.  The craving is strong and it’s a delicious tool, to forget about worries, pains, work, strains! But for a child unable to restrain, it’s up to the parent to tame that hunger!”

There was a very interesting story in the news, a 200 pound 3rd grader was removed from the parents’ home and placed in foster care because the parents allowed the child to become morbidly obese.  Yes, I did say allowed!  Unless there is an underlying medical condition a child should never be obese if a parent is living up to their expectation.  What’s the expectation?  Protect your child at all cost.  

Children want a lot of things and food is one of them.  Regular meals, snacks and candy is a joy to them.  However, it can become excessive if you allow it to.  Meal planning, portion sizes, nutrition and the ability to say NO is what some parents are lacking.  The outcome at times is obese children.  If you are an adult and you became obese later in life, that’s your decision.  You are old enough to recognize the consequences both health wise and socially.  A child on the other hand cannot and parental instinct should kick in at that point.  

There was some discussion on this topic in the group and as always I’m going to let you get a taste of these thoughts.  One group member replied as follows:

“I think that's stupid because some kids can't help their weight...so what if they taking fat kids away they taking away the skinny ones who look malnutrition to?? #ijs” (T.T.)

True statement! Kids can’t help their weight.  They eat what parents deem acceptable.  If the parent is putting huge plates of spaghetti in front of their face and saying “eat up” that’s what they are going to do.  There was also a topic reversal in this statement.  If a child is malnurished (not just skinny) then that is also an issue that needs to be addressed.  A counter response came shortly after...

“I think it should be investigated on how the kid is being treated...Kids can't help their weight because it's not up to them to do so, it's up to the parents. if I had a child & I noticed they were gaining weight uncontrollably I would look into it & seek professional help. BUT there ARE parents who pacify their kids w/ all this fast food & junk candy which is NOT healthy and in my opinion a show of child neglect twds the child's health & well being. So if that be the case, YES, take the child away & investigate the parent...if not...just get the child some help.” (M.R.)

Yet again, a kid cannot help their weight!  This member touched on an issue.  Using food to pacify your children is a form of neglect.  It encourages gluttony and the use of food as a means to settle emotions.  A child throws a fit, put some pizza in their hands.  The child may be throwing a fit because they are angry or hurt.  Using food as a pacifier objectifies food as a healing method, instead of proper communication which takes time and patience.  

I believe the article shed light on childhood obesity but the negative aspect was the actual removal of the child from the home.  This is not a case of violent abuse.  It is not immediately life threatening.  Some parents need training.  The last member’s response sums that up...

“yall tripping they gon take this child away from PARENTS cause she feed him to damn much now he in the system probably hopping from house to house getting sexually abused or physically abused or emotionally abused because they fat??!!? This is some prejudice bullshit if they really want to help they would educate the parent and the child on the dangers of eating how they eat send them to scared straight : food edition and keep it pushing” (T.K)

We have enough children in the system.  Children that were sexually and physically abused.  This issue is one of concern but it doesn’t take extreme measures to deal with it.  That just adds emotional and mental problems into the mix.  Removing the child from the home may place feelings of self-loathing (being obese) and guilt (parents in legal trouble) onto the child unneccessarily.  It also places them in the hands of a system that is notably jacked up!!  This is an opportunity to teach proper parenting skills thus readjusting a bad situation.  

All in all, childhood obesity should be addressed not with removal from the home but with awareness and knowledge.  As parents, setting your children up for a fair shot in life without worries of health issues.  Feed your children what they need, not always what they want and certainly not to pacify them!!!  

By, Debbie Allen-Smith aka D. Flo’essence