Friday, September 4, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter: by Karen Schachter

We moms have a tough path to walk as we help our daughters navigate the sometimes choppy waters of growing up girl. It's our job to protect our children and do our best to keep them safe and healthy, yet we also have to allow them to grow, stretch and learn from their own mistakes. It's a fine line between letting them be who they are and wanting to "tweak" them just a little bit so they don't suffer from the same mistakes or struggles that we did.

When it comes to healthy eating and a positive body image, this fine line can feel fragile and confusing, particularly if you struggle with these issues yourself.

When I teach workshops or work individually with moms, I am always asked some of the same questions: Should I let my kids have desert every day? How do I deal with their love of sweets? How can I help her stop eating when she's not hungry anymore? How can I help her lose weight without making her feel bad about her body? How can I help her feel good about her body, no matter what its size? How can I help her feel good about herself and treat herself with respect? Although I can give concrete "answers" to many of these questions, the truth is, there is no one "right" answer that works for everyone, all the time. There is no "magic bullet" to self-esteem, body confidence, self-care, and inspiring good health in your daughter. However, there is one piece of the puzzle that is so important, one KEY asset that is SO valuable, and one action that IS within our control...that is more powerful than anything we can say or anything we can feed them.
As her mom, the only thing you really have control over (especially as she gets older) is who YOU are BEING and how YOU are negotiating your own health, your own eating, your own body image and your own self -esteem. Are you embodying the actions and feelings that you want her to learn? Here's a little food for thought to get you going:

1. Next time you notice yourself betwixt and between about an eating habit of your daughter's, check in with yourself: Is there something about that behavior that reminds you of one of your own struggles? (Go ahead and address it in YOURSELF first).

2. Imagine that your daughter develops a delicious, nourishing and healthy relationship to food, eating and her body - what will that look like? Go ahead and try out some of those self-nourishing actions for YOURSELF.

3. What if food, eating and body image weren't a concern, for you or for your daughter? What if you had true freedom and peace with these things? What would your energy and attention be focused on instead? (Go ahead and give it a try).

Here's the thing: Our daughters learn how to live in their bodies and care for themselves with food and in their lives from MANY sources, including the media, their peers, their families, and from all the women in their lives. I am on a mission - and I invite you to join me - to help change the "face" of what the next generation of girls is learning - and I believe we must first BE THE CHANGE we wish to see in them. (When moms set their minds to something, there is no telling what could happen...)

Copyright (c) 2009 Healthy Bodies, Happy Minds: Karen Schachter, a psychotherapist and coach, is committed to helping girls and women find peace, nourishment and wellbeing with food and their bodies. Visit
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