We all want to raise kids with healthy self image and body image, but that feels so much easier said than done. How do we teach them the value of health and caring for their bodies without encouraging an obsession with health or with their bodies? How do we teach them to trust themselves around food and to love their bodies no matter what size they are, when we’re raising them in a culture that is obsessed with diets and thinness?
To answer these questions and more, today I am re-airing an episode that originally aired in 2021 with Zoë Bisbing, a licensed therapist with specialties in eating disorders, body image concerns, and perinatal mental health.
Zoë holds a master of social work from New York University and a certification in family-based treatment from the Institute for Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders. She has also completed additional training in CBTE through the Center for Research on Eating Disorders at Oxford, and she is the founder of Body Positive Home, an organization that provides online workshops and guides for parents who want to raise body-positive kids but aren’t sure where to start.
A native New Yorker, Zoë lives in Manhattan with her husband, three children, and two beloved dogs. She says she is perpetually humbled by the challenges of applying parenting philosophies to real life parenting. I know you’re going to love my conversation with her.
3 Takeaways on Being a Body-Positive Parent:
- Health and weight are not one in the same. It’s perfectly fine to value health as a family, but we need to teach our kids that you can’t tell how healthy someone is by looking at them. Many people in larger bodies are very healthy, and it’s important to point out examples of that to our kids and to ourselves to challenge our biases. I also really appreciated Zoe’s point that health should never be used to judge, oppress, or determine the value of an individual because health is a resource, and some of us have better access to it than others.
- Stay in your lane with regard to feeding. Body-positive parents strive to take the morality out of food and believe that all foods, candy and carrots alike, can fit into a healthy diet. They empower their children through encouraging joyful movement and supporting their capacity to self regulate their dietary intake. Remember Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility: Parents are in charge of when, where, and what food is served. But kids are in charge of whether or not they eat and how much they eat.
- It is never too early or too late to create a body-positive home. For parents of kids of all ages, your work is really to focus on looking inward, at your own relationship with food, your body, and diet culture.You have an opportunity to think about your own biases, particularly your anti-fat bias, and to start challenging some of those. The more you can work on this yourself, the more protective your home environment will be for your kids. And don’t be afraid to talk to them, especially your older kids, about this work that you’re doing within yourself and telling them that you want to change the way you’ve done things in the past to be more body-positive.
>>>Are these tips from Zoë on being a body-positive parent something you’ve considered ? What would you add to the takeaways? Tell us in the comments below.
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Mentioned in the Episode
- BetterHelp: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Go to betterhelp.com/3in30 to get 10% off your first month of online therapy!
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Related episodes like this one
- Episode 164: 3 Ways to Heal Your Relationship with Food This Year // Natalie Shay
- Episode 073: A True Story of Answered Prayers: 3 Essays I Wrote in Therapy
- Episode 072: Making Peace with Food (and Yourself) Through Intuitive Eating // Taryn Palmer
- Episode 012: How to Stop Being Mean to Yourself: 3 of the Best Tools I Learned in Counseling