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Am I over reacting? re dieting and children

(26 Posts)
Wilderbeast Fri 07-Oct-16 15:17:57

NC as this is outing. I'm so upset and need opinions please.

I have 2 DD's, 8 & 5 and have used the same childminder since DD1 was a baby. I am a single parent and work FT.

Over last year or so CM has lost 8 stone or so on VLCD - shakes etc. We discussed food/dieting etc very early on and I thought that we had an agreement that she would not talk about dieting etc in front of my DD's.

Actually we have talked about this before and I've always felt that we had an agreement as she knew why it would be inappropriate to do all the diet talk/good food/bad food talk etc in front of my DD's, or any young children for that matter. My DD's love and adore and admire her - she has been an extremely important relationship for them all their lives.

So last night CM & DD's put on a little party for me. Pizza and lots of sweets and cake. Very thoughtful and sweet of her - awful lot of different sweets/sugary foods, but hey it's a party.

However, the only thing CM talked about as we ate was how "I shouldn't be eating this", "all this BAD food", "I'll deal with it next week", "I'm starting back on shakes" etc on and on and on, while the girls, my 8yo especially soaked it all up, looking at her with adoration.

I was completely utterly shocked.

I am devastated. I'm getting more upset and need to get a grip.

I fear she has been like this with my DDs the entire time (15 months?) and I didn't know.

At the time I just tried (unsuccessfully) to steer the conversation away from these subjects, although I wanted to scream "you are calling the food you are feeding these children BAD and something to be "dealt with later" FFS!!!".

I feel like I should have taken more responsibility for my young girls. I try really hard not to expose them to all this utter bullshit out there in the world about food/dieting/bodies/love this/hate that/good food/bad food etc, not realising they were receiving daily dose of it from a loved trusted person.

I am overweight but try to be really body/food positive for my children. I know I have inherited a lot of bad internal thinking on food/diet/bodies/self image from my own Mum and I have really tried to break the chain when it came to my own daughters. Now I feel very undone.

I need to talk to CM about this. I think I need to find a new CM. I am so upset that this has happened especially as we have worked together for so long - I feel like I got her so wrong. But I really care about her and my DD love her.

And yes I am deliberately posting under Feminism - I feel that this is essentially a feminist issue as is protecting my DD's from all this crappy shit about food, diets, bodies etc girls are subject to.

I needed to vent that. I'm interested in your opinions as to how/if you would deal with a similar situation.

Felascloak Fri 07-Oct-16 15:56:11

Oh that sounds really hard sad
I think I would try to have a conversation with the CM about it in the first instance. It's probably so deeply ingrained in her she doesn't even realise she's saying this stuff. And it might be hard to find another cm that you get on with.
You sound like you are doing an amazing job flowers

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Fri 07-Oct-16 15:56:22

That is shitty, and I would feel much the same as you. Makes you wonder why on earth she decided to plan a party with so many sweets and things in the first place.

If it was me I think I would go for a Serious Talk with CM, and (as you have had her so long etc) a final warning that you will replace her if you get any more signs of this talk, from her or from your DDs. Of course, there is a risk of your DDs coming out with some comments due to what they've already heard even if she stops doing it now, but if they do I would be inclined to take that as a sign they've already heard too much, and again look for someone else...

Helmetbymidnight Fri 07-Oct-16 16:00:32

I don't think you're over-reacting.

I would have a long talk with her-
And a long talk with your Dd.

Wilderbeast Fri 07-Oct-16 16:04:52

Thank you.

I don't think I can face talking to her today as I've worked myself up a bit today. But I am going to have to talk with her.

It feels good to have typed it all up though and to have your reassurances.

I have talked to 2 people about this and one of them kind of understood and the other didn't - which made me feel even worse.

Ovaries of steel, good nights sleep etc etc

erinaceus Fri 07-Oct-16 16:11:37

I do not think that you are over-reacting. I think you are reacting.

I have a preference, in general, for not imposing morality on food. I have been known to express this preference in the face of office "diet talk".

In your case I think a conversation with the CM is appropriate. As other posters have suggested, the language of dieting is pernicious and your CM may not see what she is saying as anything other than normal, possibly because it is not anything other than normal in the circles in which she moves in which she feels most supported such as her VLCD friends or counsellors.

VLCD are like a cult, in my observation. Whilst some individuals do lose large amounts of weight on such programs, I do not consider the progams as a whole to be particularly healthy for the person who goes on then.

Wilderbeast Fri 07-Oct-16 16:18:54

I agree with you about VLCD, however I have kept my thoughts to myself and not commentated or offered any opinion at all - she's an adult and can come to her own conclusions about them, and decide for herself.

But I foolishly trusted her to keep her thoughts to herself, as far as in front of the children goes. sad

Everyone I know who has lost significant weight on VLCD's has gained the weight back too. It does seem to be entirely pointless and potentially dangerous IMO.

CantThinkOfAQuirkyName Fri 07-Oct-16 16:23:26

Have your Dd's mentioned anything?

I think I'd have a very relaxed conversation about food with your DC. Explain what food does what for your body. That some foods are healthier than others etc.

Speak about food regularly and educate them about what they're putting in their bodies.

Mine are having fish and chips for dinner with sticky toffee pudding and custard for pudding so I am by no means a nutritionalist but my DC do know what is good for them and bad for them. Surely it's about balancing the things you should be eating for your health (not waistline) and having treats and enjoying food as a whole rather than making it an issue.

I feel it's very important for DC to know the benefits and consequences of food choices.

instantly Fri 07-Oct-16 16:26:17

Whilst I agree with your viewpoint, I don't think you can impose it on others, even caregivers. You can ask your cm not to discuss the diet in front of your dds (which actually seems a bit over the top to me) but I don't see how you do much more than make it a suggestion.

They will hear all sorts of opinions from all sorts of people as they grow up. You just have to work on countering it with some sense. In every sphere, not just food.

albertcampionscat Fri 07-Oct-16 16:30:53


Wilderbeast Fri 07-Oct-16 16:40:10

Explain what food does what for your body. That some foods are healthier than others etc.
Speak about food regularly and educate them about what they're putting in their bodies.

Yes I do this all the time and they are very engaged with it. We also have fish and chips for dinner. That isn't my issue at all. My issue us talking of "bad foods" "being naughty" "dealing with it later" "starve now, eat later" etc etc.

My concern is that young girls are increasingly vulnerable to diets, body image, anorexia, bullemia etc and I am aware of this. I was in turn heavily influenced by the negative stuff around food/body image/dieting etc that I absorbed as a girl. Even though I know it is rubbish it is still with me in my 40's - it is invasive and hard to shake off.

I don't not want my children spoon feed crap that normalizes what is a fairly extreme thing, in their daily lives.

You can ask your cm not to discuss the diet in front of your dds
Indeed, we discussed this and she agreed that talking about dieting, esp VLCD along with good foods/bad foods etc in front of young children, including mine and her own, was not a great thing and she wouldn't do it.

Part of the reason I am so upset is I believed her and trusted her - but I'm now thinking she has just been paying lip service, and actually doesn't have a fucking clue.

Wilderbeast Fri 07-Oct-16 16:45:03

They will hear all sorts of opinions from all sorts of people as they grow up
Yes they will - but in this instance we are talking about a primary caregiver, who I pay quite a lot of money, and who I have bought into our lives, not some random person.

Iliketeaagain Fri 07-Oct-16 16:45:16

I don't think you are being unreasonable.

I'm really careful around my own daughter. I do slimming world and when she asked where I was going, I just told her I was going to a class to learn more about healthy food and eating better so what we eat at home will make us healthy and strong.

I did do a VLCD when she was tiny, but I wouldn't now, and one of the reasons I stopped was that she asked why I was only having milkshake.

It was important to me that she saw me eating healthy food rather than she had a skinny mum who was going to put it all back on when I started eating again.

Wilderbeast Fri 07-Oct-16 16:49:14

Ilike that all makes good sense to me.

My older DD is very sensitive - she will often turn negative emotions in on herself, which at the age of 8 is very hard to hear.

StealthPolarBear Fri 07-Oct-16 16:50:29

Yanbu at all. And she may have only been on the diet 15 months bit the good food /bad food stuff will have been going on much longer

CantThinkOfAQuirkyName Fri 07-Oct-16 16:53:07

To be fair to your cm she didn't say she was going to starve herself later. Maybe she was going to do a little extra in the gym?

Ultimately I feel it is your responsibility to educate your children about these things. If your DC haven't mentioned anything to you it may not even be on their radar.

Sorry but I think it sounds like you're making an issue of something that isn't an issue. But that's my opinion.

You don't mention your DC have reacted to anything your cm has done.

deadringer Fri 07-Oct-16 17:12:59

I think being devastated is a bit of an overreaction. Imo your children are most likely to be influenced by you, but then i am pretty relaxed about food in general. I think you should have a chat but to get a new cm is a bit extreme.

Wilderbeast Fri 07-Oct-16 17:20:57

I am devastated because I feel like a 8 year relationship is now over, and also because I have made a big mistake.

Yes my children are most likely to be influenced by me - but as I have to work FT, I also have to out source some childcare. And this person has a massive influence on them. She spent more time with them than I did before they started school.

erinaceus Fri 07-Oct-16 17:56:52

I do not agree that you were foolish to trust her. Nor do I think that devastated is an overreaction. An 8 year relationship may or may not be over. One thing you could do is ask your children whether they have any views on the food that they do and do not consider healthy.

My concern would be around the diet that she is providing to your children, which, whilst unlikely to be inadequate, may have taken on a moralistic quality, such as feeding your children the foods that she forbids herself to eat. This is a characteristic habit seen in people who are starving yet in a position to feed others. I would hope that as a childcare professional she does not do this, but food and eating are so tangled up with thoughts and feelings that if I were in your position I would feel moved to ask her this directly.

Dervel Fri 07-Oct-16 18:52:01

I am skeptical of diets like these, I just don't think one can thrive on so little nutrition. However just putting a pin in patriarchal beauty standards for a moment I am becoming increasingly concerned about levels of obesity in our society. That goes for both genders.

I am opposed to fat shaming, as it doesn't really achieve much, but make people feel worse and perhaps eat more, but I am becoming equally opposed to thin shaming. I think it is healthy for boys and girls to have role models, and if some of those role models reflect good health and fitness then I'm all for it.

Your child minder opens up a teachable conversation with your children. It reinforces that to maintain good health requires discipline and effort, but perhaps just eating milkshakes is not necessarily the way forward. Diet & excercise is key. However as your childminder obviously has qualities you like and admire it shows that not everyone thinks the same way.

I get there is this visceral fear in our society about eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, but obesity stands to wipe out far more of us than those will at the rate we are going.

erinaceus Fri 07-Oct-16 19:24:35

Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa are psychiatric diagnoses.

Obesity is a description of the ratio of the weight of a person divided by the square of their height having passed an arbitrary threshold.

The opposite of obesity is underweight, a condition somewhat less prevalent than obesity and also more damaging in terms of mortality and morbidity. By this I mean, more people might develop diseases as a consequence of being overweight, but weighing less than is healthy is more damaging to the body. This is quite apart from Anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 07-Oct-16 21:05:33

You said that she lost 8 stone. Now I'm larger than I want to be and larger than I've ever been but if I lost 8 stone I would be dead. It surely can't be a surprise to you that the child minder must have issues of one sort or another with food?

Your child minder must have been obese. This has nothing to do with fat shaming/ societal pressure to look good.

CantThinkOfAQuirkyName Fri 07-Oct-16 21:11:58

Very good point lass

SoozeyHoozey Fri 07-Oct-16 21:17:38

Eight stone is a massive amount, your daughters must have noticed and asked themselves about her change in size? What did you say?

XinnaJane Fri 07-Oct-16 21:28:22

Personally I don't agree with the view that being healthy and slim takes 'discipline and effort'. Not do I think that we should be spending a lot of time talking about the effect of food on the body with children. My view is that children learn best from our general attitudes and example - so it is very relevant that your CMs general view of food is quite dysfunctional. If a child is brought up being used to eating a healthy range of foods, with no exposure to moralistic judgements around food and bodies, they will naturally have a sense of how to self-regulate without needing to be explicitly taught. Unfortunately your CM is doing the exact opposite of this. I would be upset too, but unfortunately this is one of the pitfalls of childcare - they don't do it as we would do it ourselves.

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