People in LA are always hyping “the next big” something; the next big movie hit, the next big restaurant, bar, etc. Parenting, I’m finding, also has the “next big” crisis. Bullying and food are the current “big” topics in parenting.
Now, they’re both real problems, to be sure. I think bullying has been around for longer than we’d like to believe, but people weren’t talking about it as much. I think it’s good that we’re talking about it, but there are dangers as well in zero tolerance policies, and turning children into criminals. Kids are not little adults, after all. Part of their developmental growth is in making mistakes. Of course, one child should never be allowed to hurt another, but we also have to take care to make sure that children who have made mistakes are given the chance to learn and grow from them, and not have to wear a capital “B” on their chest for the rest of their lives.
Food is also a real issue. We all know the obesity levels are totally out of control, and it’s worthwhile to let the food industry know that we want real food.
Where I got myself into trouble with my children is in assuming a national problem was theirs. My oldest daughter dances nearly every day. In school, the most limited activity she has in P.E. is running a mile every day. She’s fine. She’s in great shape. My youngest daughter is also completely within the healthy percentile in weight.
But I admit, I got sucked in. I started to feel guilty and see words from blog posts in my head whenever I gave them a Goldfish cracker or let them eat carbs. To the point where my neurosis was giving them anxiety. My oldest daughter began wondering if my “no” to food requests were because she looked fat.
At that point, my own brain started to kick in again. I remembered my own motto: “It’s All About Balance.” The truth is, they are not starving, nor are they anywhere near obese. They are just as likely to ask for a banana as a Girl Scout cookie. The only possibility of them getting a food complex is if I gave them one. Enough.
For the most part, I’m proud to stay out of LA trends. I dress the way I dress, I don’t change my hairstyle according to any magazine, and no matter what any movie says, I still enjoy Merlot!
We’re going back to balance. The girls still have organic snacks in their lunchboxes, but I’ve stopped trying to force them to like organic peanut butter (it’s nearly impossible to spread anyway). As I write this, my oldest daughter is enjoying making chocolate chip cookies for our family’s party, but she’ll also munch on celery and carrot sticks served, too.
She enjoys a life of balance. When I don’t let the hype get to me, I’m a better mother when I live a life of balance.
April McCaffery is the single mom to two daughters, in 5th and 8th grade.