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The Enabler

May 7, 2013

I grew up in the panhandle of Florida in a small Southern town.  Many benefits came along with growing up here.  I learned good manners, how to drive a stick shift on the country dirt roads, a little bit of farming, the rewards of showing your pig in the county fair, how to fish in my Granny’s pond (followed by how to clean the fish), and the appreciation for the smell of freshly plowed peanuts.  I also learned how to eat like a Southerner.

We mostly ate the things that we grew /raised or bought from local farms or fruit stands.  We canned a lot in the summer and feasted on veggies all year.  We also enjoyed fried pork chops, fried okra, fried chicken, fried tomatoes…you get the point.  Everyone I knew owned a Fry Daddy as part of the essential kitchen appliance.  We ate banana pudding, pound cake, Mississippi mud pie, and anything else filled or cooked with butter, Crisco, or sugar.  Delish!

My Mom is a stellar mom.  This post is not intended to knock her.  She is simply amazing!  But, let’s face it, cooking was not her favorite chore.  We often joke about how many sandwiches we ate growing up and our favorite snacks were made by Little Debbie.  A sweet tooth runs very deep in our heritage.  We often ate cookies and cake for breakfast.  It wasn’t until college when my roommate asked me why I always ate cookies for breakfast that I noticed she ate stuff like oatmeal.  Hmmm….never thought of it before!

Most people in my family have struggled with weight our entire lives.  The very foundation we grew up on was eating junk and lots of it.   It is engrained in our DNA and it is possible our veins flow with butter.  After becoming an adult and thinking more about my health, I have tried to change my “mentality”.  One of the goals I have for my children is to break this chain and teach them from the beginning to eat healthy (at least most of the time).  It wasn’t until one day last week I realized what had happened; I was an enabler.

Have you ever tried to distract your kiddo when they are upset by giving them a treat?  This is what I did!  My 2.5 year old fell down and was crying her eyeballs out like it was the end of the world.  To get her to calm down I kissed her ouchy and gave her hugs.  After a continued ear-piercing scream came from her little tiny body, I tried offering her a “treat”.  She immediately calmed down and after I gave her the treat, she stated, “that made me feel better”.  It hit my like a ton of bricks:  I have become her addiction enabler.  Ok, addiction is a strong word but I want to get my point across.  By giving her food to “make her feel better”, I am teaching her the comforts of food in a bad way.  I find that I am an emotional eater and this is exactly the foundation I am laying for her.  I am not breaking the chain but instead adding another link.

This got me thinking even more.  Our 8 month old falls down, I give her a pacifier to comfort her.  I have friends that offer the breasts for comfort when their baby gets an ouchy.  I offer the toddler food incentives to make her feel better.  I know there is another way of distraction and I’m not sure yet how to handle this other than to fight my own urge to offer the sweets and oral satisfier (paci).  It definitely makes it easier to give them such tools to stop crying, however, parenting is never easy and making the choice now to spend the extra time to find another way to comfort and/or distract from the injury will be much more beneficial to my daughters as they form habits and grow into young adults.

Please share with me any ideas you have or your thoughts.  I love to learn from others and am always looking for creative ways to rear these babies.

 

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