Parents who are trying to raise healthy, happy and well-adjusted children will always find a hard subject to breach. Whether it’s the age of “where do babies come from?” or why children can’t have as many expensive toys as their friends, there are a number of subjects that children need to talk about that make parents uncomfortable.
However, a new survey by Mend and online community Netmums found that a subject that children absolutely need guidance on is making parents shy. Over a third of parents are afraid to talk about weight with their children because of fears that it could hurt their self-esteem or push them towards an eating disorder. Parents who already know that their children are overweight have an even harder time broaching the subject, with 65% saying that they fear bringing up the issue of health and weight management.
Ultimately hurting our kids
However, experts say that avoiding talking about weight could be contributing to the rising problem of childhood obesity in the UK. While 42 percent had tried to talk about the issue with their children, almost half felt that it was not a helpful conversation and did not positively affect their family. However, around three-quarters of parents said that instead of talking about weight, they tried to focus on what their children are eating, encouraging them to eat more fruits and vegetables and slow down on junk food.
The survey also found that parents tend to see whether their children are overweight by comparing them with other children their age, rather than taking them to a doctor or looking at their measurements. However, as Mend’s co-founder Paul Sacher said, the rise of obesity as a problem in UK society can make it “difficult to tell if their child is a healthy weight simply by looking at them.” He went on to say that parents can check their children’s weight and height, and then look at a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator online to see if they need to take action to help their children’s weight problems.
What’s most important, experts say, is that parents are open with their children and willing to explain their viewpoints on health and weight, rather than avoiding the issue or making comments that would make their children feel bad. The issue of tight-lipped parents is cropping up in other areas as well, as separate research shows that around half of parents saving into Junior ISAs don’t tell their children that they have the account. Junior ISAs can be had by providers like Red Rose Friendly Society and allow parents to build a tax-free nest egg for their children. However, having a nest egg “in secret” can often hurt a child’s ability to responsibly manage their own finances.