Other Than Mother

When my son was 2 years old, he wouldn’t eat. We tried everything. I threatened, I cajoled, I begged, I even did a food dance (don’t ask). Finally, I reached a point of complete despair and I called in some professional help. I was asked some questions and I explained my concerns. I told him how I had tried my best. He listened and then suggested that he take my son to a kindergarten for lunchtime. The condition was that I wasn’t allowed in. As you can imagine, I wasn’t happy about this loss of control (I haven’t changed much in the 17 years that have passed!) but I agreed.

We arrived at the kindergarten and my son was led inside. The door was firmly shut in my face! I didn’t leave, but waited outside, pacing the floor. There was a window to the main lunch area and I peered in. What did I see? My son literally stuffing his face with chicken and couscous. Worse than that, as I watched, I saw him raise his hand and ask for MORE.

I was devastated. It was obviously all my fault.

I was the reason that he wasn’t eating.

How could I not be able to feed my own son?

I sat with the psychologist who said three words to me that I have never forgotten.

“Other Than Mother”

He explained that there are times when a mother isn’t the right person to deal with a specific problem. The closeness, the intensity of a parent can often have the opposite effect. Children, even as young as two years old, can sense conflict and they alter their behavior accordingly.

This lesson, which was not an easy one for me to learn, has helped me over the past seven years with the teenage girls – who I have the privilege of teaching. Very often a parent will call me and raise concerns about health, fitness, food and other social issues, specifically self-esteem. I will meet the girl and I will see a totally different person than the one that was described to me. I will see exactly where they can be encouraged and where they are totally at ease with themselves. It never ceases to amaze me how differently our children behave when they are in a non-home environment.

Whilst we undoubtedly all want what is best for our children, sometimes we need to step back and see a picture that is bigger than the one we create of them at home. We need to find someone who will be a positive influence, and let that person guide them through the tough terrain of being a teenager.

The lesson I learnt that day has allowed me to let go of (some) of my concerns and control, especially regarding the diet and fitness level of my children. I have been lucky to find some incredible role models who have managed to influence them to eat well, work out and live a healthy life. I will always be grateful to them for the love and care that they have shown.

So, if you have concerns for your children’s diet and fitness, take a step back. Look around at all the wonderful places that are in your area for them to receive positive and strong role models and find a person that works for your child. Sometimes loving our children means knowing exactly when and where to let go.

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