11 year old & her parents asking/pressuring me to help her lose weight. I'm very uncomfortable

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Replies

  • animatorswearbras
    animatorswearbras Posts: 1,001 Member
    Francl27 wrote: »
    I honestly fail to see how teaching her what's good for her body and what isn't will put her on the path for eating disorders. If she's already buying a lot of snacks at school to the point of getting obese... she already has an eating disorder. I honestly fail to see how explaining to her that some foods have more calories than others and will make her heavier is going to make things worse - the poor girl already has bad image issues. Maybe this way she would actually realize that her behavior is making it worse? The whole thing about letting your kid get fat just because you're worried about an eating disorder thing is just getting out of hand, IMO. At 11 they are mature enough to understand that some foods are healthier than others. Sure, it really should be the parents or pediatrician's job to explain it... but they might have a valid point if she looks up to you and might be more receptive to what YOU're telling her.

    It's absolutely possible to talk about calories, exercise, and healthy food, without telling a child that she's fat.

    But I'd definitely talk to the parents about getting rid of that school money altogether, so she has to eat what you pack and nothing else. Maybe find a diplomatic way of saying that even if you talk to her about healthier choices, it doesn't mean that she will make those healthier choices.

    Also, my kids learned in preschool what's healthy and what isn't. It's not like it's a huge secret that's going to damage every kid. It's useful knowledge. Honestly I'm just very confused because it makes no sense that the parents would want to ban all junk food yet give her snack money for school.

    Sure but this wasn't a "we're exploring avenues and would love to work with you to help our daughter" it was "we refuse to take any responsibility, and if you don't help we're going to ship her off to a camp and you lose your job" The manipulation is awful and the irresponsibility of allowing their child pretty much unlimited access to funds that she can spend on extra meals and junk. I'm sure I saw a comment earlier in the thread where the Mum makes passive aggressive comments to the child about her weight whilst out food shopping rather than educating her about healthy food and making healthy choices. And the OP is very correct to be cautious over how to approach the issue with the child without a medical professionals advice and little parental support.
  • Zinka61
    Zinka61 Posts: 487 Member
    I would educate the parents about how their pressure can backfire. If I were you, I'd tell them I"d be comfortable getting involved with this only after the girl has had a meeting with a nutritionist with you present if possible. Otherwise, I'd want only to teach in a general way what a calorie is, how too many rich treats can cause problems, portion control, healthy types of food, the importance of fruit and veggies for snacks, avoiding sugary drinks, etc. I was a chubby kid and well remember wishing more than anything I could be thin but not knowing how to get there. If you are with her all day, it seems like she's already learning from you. Maybe you could cook together to get her interested in the health aspects of food rather than the negatives? Get her involved in some fun exercise? I agree, it's a real shame if she can't confide in her parents about this, but it's great that you are there for her.
  • CatchMom11
    CatchMom11 Posts: 462 Member
    My nephew is 10 and overweight so I can assure you that these parents are doing what they think is best. My sister and BIL do the same thing with "my guy" and it's at the advice and suggestion of their family doctor. Just because she's 11 doesn't mean that it's something that should be ignored. If she feels insecure, there are healthy ways to help her develop a good/healthy relationship with food, just as you're doing for yourself.

    Does that mean that it's your place? No. Not by any means. Her parents may be worried that if they tackle it, they will handle it the wrong way seeing as they're not as clued in as you are. What I would suggest is for them to tackle this AS A FAMILY, but with the help of professionals to guide them. That's exactly what my sister's family has done and it's helping tremendously. They find activities to do together or with just a couple of them. My sister, BIL and both nieces are ALL contributing to the health and well being of my guy so that he doesn't see it as this is 'his' issue, but rather that it's something they're working on as a family. After 5 years of being her babysitter, it's very likely that you're not just the babysitter, but rather family and family is who we lean on and trust. So yeah, definitely blurred... :blush:

    So please, try to not to look at it negatively because you have a great opportunity here. I'm not suggesting that you take this on yourself, but perhaps give them some tips, but more so, I would highly recommend that they tackle this as a family and seek out the advice of a nutritionist and a personal trainer. I know 11 seems young for a PT, but my own daughter who is also 11 works with one for softball. They will develop a routine customized for her and her young body.

    I wish you the best of luck Ellie - it sounds like you've got a heart of gold!!!
  • snickerscharlie
    snickerscharlie Posts: 8,582 Member
    @EllieElla2015 - so how did the 'meeting' go last night?
  • conniecas
    conniecas Posts: 2 Member
    edited July 2017
    I didn't read all the comments already posted so forgive me if this is redundant. I understand you wanting to keep your job, but given the scenario you've described, I think Kayla probably also needs you in her life and the positive role you can play for her might be another motivation for finding a way to navigate this difficult situation. Strong connections to adults beyond their parents enrich a child's life and help to provide them with safe space. Not trying to increase your sense of obligation, but just saying that there's a flip side to the idea that you could scar her, which is that you could also help to support her.

    I absolutely agree that no child, especially a girl of that age, needs more pressure about their weight, eating, appearance, etc. Maybe to appease the parents, you can agree to discuss with her, but focus your discussions on something other than Kayla. Since Kayla has asked you before about the ways you interact with food, maybe you could answer her questions about your food choices, but not make any suggestions to her about hers. That would leave it up to Kayla to decide how much she wants to know and whether she wants to make any changes to her eating. To me, you could actually serve a protective role if she's talking to you about it, because you would be there to help keep it in balance -- in addition to the damaging scenario of her feeling that healthy eating is being imposed on her, there is also the damaging scenario where she makes changes to her eating with little supervision and then ends up going too far. Anyway, what I'm saying is that I would think of your role as a support and let Kayla direct the conversation. Focus on positive questions that have to do with self-care -- it doesn't have to be "a plan" or restrictions, it can just be "am i still hungry?" or "am i getting enough veggies?". 100% agree that the scale should be left out of it. When I was a kid, we used the "food pyramid" to think about what should go into a meal/snack, and I don't think anyone thought that was too harmful. I would position any discussions hand in hand with other self-care, like rest/sleep, doing activities she enjoys, oral hygiene, etc. so that it's not about changes that are visible on the outside, but about ways of taking care of herself that make her feel good. It's also important to get everyone in the household participating (parents and siblings included). As a child, I hated feeling that I was being singled out as needing to eat better or behave better, because it implied that there was something wrong with me. If everyone does it together, it's more likely to be a positive experience and less likely to be interpreted as a slight.
  • ladyhusker39
    ladyhusker39 Posts: 1,408 Member
    Rusty740 wrote: »
    I really hate to say this but based on what you've said there's a very good chance that they actually blame you for Kayla's weight but aren't prepared to admit it to you. You're their scapegoat and it's only a matter of time before you get blamed directly. Hopefully I'm way out in left field here.

    I'd prepare for things to escalate at some point. You're in a very tough position. I feel for this little girl.

    I don't agree with this assessment, and in any case it doesn't change your relationship with her. The parents are just trying to do their best for their child. They know full well how hard it is to get a good babysitter, nevermind how hard it would be to get one their kid actually likes and the fallout there would be from their kid if they did get someone else.

    Let's face it, you're doing parenting here and they know it.

    Maybe that's what it is. It's hard for us to tell, but they've already threatened to put the girl in summer camp in essence firing the OP at least for the summer. It doesn't bode well. Personally, I hope you're right, but I don't think so. It's sad for this child.
  • Mezzie1024
    Mezzie1024 Posts: 380 Member
    I would say that I would be happy to follow a meal plan developed by her pediatrician or other medical professional and that, while I know how to take care of my adult body, I am not aware how to meet a developing girl's nutritional needs. If that doesn't fly, then I'd start job-hunting, unfortunately.
  • eisterunicorn
    eisterunicorn Posts: 158 Member
    Can you let us know what happens? I'm curious. Really hope it all gets sorted out so everybody is okay with it and Kayla is happy :)
  • tabletop_joe
    tabletop_joe Posts: 455 Member
    These parents are giving me an ulcer and I don't even have to deal with them. My heart goes out to you. You should follow your instincts; it sounds like you have a good moral compass and care about this girl.
  • shans34
    shans34 Posts: 535 Member
    I have an 11 year old 5'1 and 130lbs. I've had to deal with this issue. Don't teach her to weigh food or about calories. Like I do for my daughter, I just keep healthy food on hand, make suggestions towards fruit for snacks and encourage activity. I would never "diet" a child. There is verifiable proof that dieting a child has strong affects towards lifelong weight battles and morbid obesity. (I'm a living example!!!) 11 year olds drop weight very quickly given the right tools! Those tools are mainly eating healthy foods and being active! No diet, no gimmicks, no weighing food, no restrictions!! I simply taught my daughter portion control in, one plate, one bowl of ice cream and started dancing with her. She is loosing weight, doesn't even recognize that I'm trying to help her lose weight, and she is having fun. That's all a kid needs! Tell her parents it's not your job or anyone else's to parent their kid. They should not succumb to pressure from nosy people. That little girl needs to know she is beautiful and the same as any other girl!
  • rainbowbow
    rainbowbow Posts: 7,491 Member
    edited July 2017
    I havent' read the other replies, but here's what i'd do and have to say:

    First and foremost, if you're the one responsible with making her lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, etc. then you could very well be overfeeding her. Aside from the fact that it's really easy to over-eat as an adult, it's even harder for adults to properly judge portion sizes for children.

    At her current age, height, and weight she should be concerned and her parents should have already addressed the issue by taking her to her pediatrician years ago. At this point she's already in her pre-teens and I don't think at her current weight a full-force dietitian is necessary.

    Going forward, it's time to encourage healthy foods (not calories, not weighing and measuring, etc.) just as her parents have suggested (i.e. not eating cakes, candies, cookies, ice creams, etc.) and leaving those foods for special occasions (birthdays, holidays, etc.).

    One of the best thing you can do with children is teach and encourage a passion for cooking healthy meals. At her age she should already know how to make some simple meals for herself (like am omelet, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, baked potatoes, chopped salads, some meats like chicken breast/salmon which can be marinated and cooked in the over, some simple side dishes like brocolli, green beans, etc.). If she doesn't have these skills yet, then she needs to get cooking!

    Something you guys could try is watching an episode of good eats and then making the recipe together. Or, have her pick out a couple cook books (make sure they have bright vibrant pictures and are simple recipes) and go through the process with her.

    The end goal here would be a child who is not only capable of making food for herself, but someone who takes pride in the food they cook and eat. Taking her *own* lunch to school or making her own dinner is probably a huge motivator to stick to and actually eat her own hard work.

    Teaching her how to make healthy and tasty snacks based on her own preferences and replacing this with the granola bars and other high-calorie snacks around the house is also a good idea.

    In addition to this I would do my best to encourage her to find ways to be active. Sports are always my go-to choice as they are fun, engaging, and don't feel like strict "exercise". Put her through the ringer to find out what kind of sport best fits her. If nothing else going outside and throwing around a ball, playing some kickball, playing some badminton, learning carthweels, etc. is an option. Hell, take her rollerblading, swimming, bowling, etc. just get her started on some sort of activity.

    Essentially, you want to tackle the issue alongside her parents. While i totally understand you're uncomfortable, if she's been in your care for most of her life and for most of her waking hours you've got a responsibility to plan these activities when you're together. These simple things can also be done as something exciting and new and NOT a "hey, you're getting fat/are fat so we're putting you on this plan".

    that's my 2 cents.


    P.S. I think going to a summer camp is an excellent way for her to bond with other kids, have her portions watched, get plenty of exercise/activity/etc. Your own money aside, this sounds like an excellent opportunity for her.
  • ritzvin
    ritzvin Posts: 2,849 Member
    rainbowbow wrote: »
    I havent' read the other replies, but here's what i'd do and have to say:

    First and foremost, if you're the one responsible with making her lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, etc. then you could very well be overfeeding her. Aside from the fact that it's really easy to over-eat as an adult, it's even harder for adults to properly judge portion sizes for children.

    At her current age, height, and weight she should be concerned and her parents should have already addressed the issue by taking her to her pediatrician years ago. At this point she's already in her pre-teens and I don't think at her current weight a full-force dietitian is necessary.

    Going forward, it's time to encourage healthy foods (not calories, not weighing and measuring, etc.) just as her parents have suggested (i.e. not eating cakes, candies, cookies, ice creams, etc.) and leaving those foods for special occasions (birthdays, holidays, etc.).

    One of the best thing you can do with children is teach and encourage a passion for cooking healthy meals. At her age she should already know how to make some simple meals for herself (like am omelet, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, baked potatoes, chopped salads, some meats like chicken breast/salmon which can be marinated and cooked in the over, some simple side dishes like brocolli, green beans, etc.). If she doesn't have these skills yet, then she needs to get cooking!

    Something you guys could try is watching an episode of good eats and then making the recipe together. Or, have her pick out a couple cook books (make sure they have bright vibrant pictures and are simple recipes) and go through the process with her.

    The end goal here would be a child who is not only capable of making food for herself, but someone who takes pride in the food they cook and eat. Taking her *own* lunch to school or making her own dinner is probably a huge motivator to stick to and actually eat her own hard work.

    Teaching her how to make healthy and tasty snacks based on her own preferences and replacing this with the granola bars and other high-calorie snacks around the house is also a good idea.

    In addition to this I would do my best to encourage her to find ways to be active. Sports are always my go-to choice as they are fun, engaging, and don't feel like strict "exercise". Put her through the ringer to find out what kind of sport best fits her. If nothing else going outside and throwing around a ball, playing some kickball, playing some badminton, learning carthweels, etc. is an option. Hell, take her rollerblading, swimming, bowling, etc. just get her started on some sort of activity.

    Essentially, you want to tackle the issue alongside her parents. While i totally understand you're uncomfortable, if she's been in your care for most of her life and for most of her waking hours you've got a responsibility to plan these activities when you're together. These simple things can also be done as something exciting and new and NOT a "hey, you're getting fat/are fat so we're putting you on this plan".

    that's my 2 cents.


    P.S. I think going to a summer camp is an excellent way for her to bond with other kids, have her portions watched, get plenty of exercise/activity/etc. Your own money aside, this sounds like an excellent opportunity for her.

    100% agree.

    including the cutting out the cakes, cookies except for special occasions.. Stuff that calorie dense is really hard to make fit into a healthy diet on any regular basis for a less than active female (as in stringent pre-planning and counting of calories to get that turnover/slice of cake to fit on a non-cardio day)- if she does get regularly, actively involved in a sport, then probably no need to cut them out, but minimal exercise likely won't be enough.

    Giving them some idea of approximately how many calories they need in a day can be a good idea too, I think. I picked up an individually packaged piece of streusel the other day in the checkout/impulse lane and checked the back - 450 calories! (I may have audibly blurted out "No wonder everyone is so g'd *kitten* fat!" while putting it back). Someone who didn't know their weight-training-rather-than cardio-day maintenance was less than 4x that (in my case ~1530) would probably not realize just how ridiculously high that is (ie most kids in the quickie mart after school) and how much those calories add up if it isn't a rare occasion.