Ask Amy: These moms need to go on a shame-free diet

May 17, 2012

DEAR AMY: My partner and I have two young daughters. Our oldest is 3.

We have both struggled with our own body images and have done various diets throughout our lives. I guess I carry around more shame around the diets, so I don’t say much about them.

My partner talks a lot about her diets, about losing weight and taking in fewer calories, etc. We have talked about this and she says the more we hide it, the bigger deal it will become, which I do agree with.

Body image has been such a painful issue for both of us. I don’t want to pass that on to our daughters in this already diet/body image obsessed world. What are your thoughts? -- New Moms

DEAR NEW MOMS: The contrast between your kids’ two moms — with you being ashamed and your partner being obsessed — means you would pass along your anxiety without offering healthy solutions. I applaud your determination to find another way.

For young children, learning how to feed themselves and how to make good food choices gives them an important sense of dominion over their own bodies.

The best thing is for you two parents to get on the same page and agree to create the healthiest environment possible at home. You and your partner should see a professional nutritionist together.

Learn how to involve your children in making healthy food choices. Plant a garden together. Visit farmers’ markets and choose a range of healthy whole foods for meals and snacks.

Your meal times should be (chaotic) celebrations of togetherness, with everyone pitching in (even very young children can shell peas or put apple slices and cheese on a plate), and with all of you eating the same type of meals at the same time — together.

You should never criticize your own body (or anyone else’s) in front of your children. Any dieting you discuss should be framed in terms of being healthy and feeling good.

For inspiration, check out the book “Real Food for Healthy Kids: 200-Plus Easy, Wholesome Recipes,” by Tanya Wenman Steel and Tracey Seaman (2008, William Morrow Cookbooks).

DEAR AMY: My sister and I are the family historians.

While getting all of my other siblings’ information about their children, I was asked if I would put the adopted children down as children born to the family. I said I would add them, but not as born to the couple. This has caused a real problem.

Am I right (I would add them as adopted and the year in which they entered the family unit)? I’ll stand by your answer. -- Family Historian

DEAR HISTORIAN: I solicited opinions from several different family historians and received opinions across a wide spectrum.

You don’t say exactly what sort of family history you are pulling together.

My own view is that you should include all children in your family as children in your family, no matter the circumstances of their birth.

For you to do otherwise, and to note the date of their entry into the family but not their actual birth date makes it seem that on the one hand you are denoting them as not quite “real” and on the other hand you are implying that their lives started not on the dates of their birth but on the date they entered the family.

Include all children of the family in your family tree. If you are compiling a “key” or narrative to accompany the family tree you can note adoption dates, etc.

You want to tell as complete a story as possible, but adopted children are “real” family members — actually and legally — and your history should acknowledge this reality.

DEAR AMY: In your answer to “Unsure,” you noted that people can ask their local fire department for help in installing a child’s car seat.

I did exactly this, and I was told that liability prevented them from doing this, though they did point out the various tether points in the car. -- A Reader

DEAR READER: Readers can locate a certified safety seat installer in their area by checking safercar.gov. When I typed in my ZIP code, the nearest certified installer was — you guessed it — at my local fire station.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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