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

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Replies

  • NanceePants11
    NanceePants11 Posts: 34 Member
    edited July 2017
    ngarci11 wrote: »
    All you have to do is be a supporting figure, not a nutritionist.

    This is what I'm comfortable with being too- supportive but not like some sort of authority figure regarding weight. Like making her healthy food, taking her on walks, and listening to her as another user recommended as well. That's my personal limit when it comes to involvement in her weight loss I think.

    Then that sounds great! The biggest challenge here is getting the parents to understand how it will work, as it will probably be a slow start. They might blame you if there isn't fast enough progress, or scold Kayla for "not doing something right". On how to approach them, let them know you do want to help but be firm on how far your limit goes, just like you said above. And be firm on taking her to an expert, because her body will start changing soon (puberty) and only they can say how her eating and weightloss will be affected. Some people I grew up with lost a lot of weight. Others, like myself, started putting it on. I wish you the best of luck
  • DebLaBounty
    DebLaBounty Posts: 1,172 Member
    This is so tricky. Teaching a kid about healthy choices is one thing, but if she's being teased at school and her parents start hinting that she's overweight, then there's that whole messy low self esteem issue. How are you supposed to deal with that? I'd insist that the parents get advice from a doctor or nutritionist before you start changing how you prepare meals and snacks. Nutritional requirements for kids are different than those for adults, and what is working for you may not be good for Kayla. Finally, if these parents want to add to your duties as a life coach for their child, you can certainly tell them that you are entitled to more pay for your expertise. Maybe negotiate up to $30 an hour?
  • Grimmerick
    Grimmerick Posts: 3,367 Member
    edited July 2017
    Her parents need to chill until after puberty. In my family all of the girls prepubescent were slightly overweight (we were little chunkers despite what we ate or how active we were) until puberty then it all melted and shifted naturally. Are they sure this isn't just a pre-puberty thing, it certainly is the same for all the girls in my family. My friends daughter is like this as well and she plays soccer, rides horses, wrestles, she is extremely active. I bet when she hits puberty all that will fall into place. You can't or shouldn't do ANYTHING you are not trained, certified or specifically paid to do.......CYA(cover your @ss, Liability) especially since they haven't taken her to see a specialist to even figure out why she is overweight.
  • Rusty740
    Rusty740 Posts: 749 Member
    edited July 2017
    I've never quoted before so sorry if this turns out formatted incorrectly!
    If you take this on (you don't have a choice, by the way, she looks up to you) you should treat this as a way of teaching her what her body needs first. Tell here about exercise, about how she is growing still and needs more food than adults, do some research with her and show here all the things you do and don't know. Don't be afraid to tell here that you're scared of being a bad influence and show her that food and body shape can be an obsession. Most kids can handle the truth, but will see though lies in a second.

    This is what worries me specifically. I feel like I don't want to be the one to introduce her to the internet world of dieting (we all know there's so much bad advice there). I don't even want her to know that she is able to find diet advice online. I'm also afraid that if nobody talks to her about she will just go online herself since she's expressed concerns to me and I'm not talking to her about It. I realize I might be overreacting because my parents were obsessive about my weight when I was growing up so I'm sensitive to it, but I don't even want to tell her that she's growing so she needs more food. I really just don't want her to think about quantity at all. I don't want to be the one to make her conscious of food quantity because that's when it (in my opinion) gets dangerous mentally. Especially at 11, I'm afraid she'll think "if I lose weight eating a little less I'll lose weight eating a lot less". But again, I'm not a parent and I'm sure you're far more experienced than I am regarding kids since you are one, so if it's worked for you it may not be as bad as I'm making it out to be.

    This whole situation is making me feel icky and I really appreciate having so many of you talking this through with me.

    Here's the thing. There's a difference between "bringing up food and telling her you're going to teach her about calories and stuff" and responding to her questions and giving her the best advice you know how. This is what friends do, and make no mistake, she sees you as a friend. If she asks you something, you've got to do your best to give a thoughtful answer. If she doesn't, do your best to show her a good example. And I wouldn't be afraid to bring the scale back. The basis of the scale is to determine what your body needs, and the further down that road you get, she'll eventually figure out what she needs, and maybe that is just to learn to be confident without a scale. She's going to challenge you're beliefs, so don't be afraid to think things through with her.

    "Why do you need 75 g of protein she'll ask" and you'll say "because the muscles in my body need protein, for building and repairing. I need 75 because I weigh xx lbs and I think I've got xx lbs of muscle, but I'm not sure, so I'm sort of guessing a bit, but I think it's correct. There was some study done that tried to figure out how much protein our bodies need and it said xx, but it didn't have any women in the study so I've just figured anywhere between 50-100g is kind of about right." Then you'll tell her it doesn't matter if you hit the daily target or not, so long as you get it about right. By now, she's figured out that she doesn't want to do all that work, but she understands she needs to eat her chicken thighs once in awhile.

    I've got in the habit of being sort of a background voice when my kids are watching TV or just looking around. I'll tell them about advertising, about how advertisers use something unrelated to make us want to buy something. I'll ask my kids, "what are they trying to sell us in this ad?" sometimes they get it wrong, but it makes them think about how people are trying to manipulate them. This can be a good approach if the kid is receptive to learning about their own feelings, and how influence works.

    It's very tough to consider the advice she could get from the internet, so it's ok to tell her that it's there and that much of it is people who are trying to influence them. You can even tell here that 'you' are an influence on her and that you are trying to give her good advice, but you don't have it all. You can tell her that it's ok if she has any questions about things she has heard or read, and this could be a good opportunity to show her how to tell the truth from lies or misconceptions. Show her some research, or go online with her and look for some research to see if you can find any. This would be a good exercise for all of us. Ahead of time, you could pick a website and discuss it. Tell her what you are thinking about it. As she grows up, she's not just learning about calories and weight, she's learning how to discern the truth. This is where you need to focus your attention. Tell her why things work if you know, or do your best, but tell her exactly when you don't know. You'll be surprised what you can learn from this process.
  • raetzpl
    raetzpl Posts: 9 Member
    To be honest, I wish someone had talked to me around that age about caloric intake and logging food. Do they teach that kind of stuff in health class these days? I was never obese, but i was always bigger than most of my friends. I think it would have been enlightening to log food for a couple of days to get an idea of what I was doing. I definitely did not understand at that age that a bowl of cheerios was way different than a bowl of fruit loops. Or that the frozen coke I bought almost daily at school would add up really quickly!

    It is a scary age though where if calorie counting is introduced it could become obsessive and damaging. I certainly don't think it's your job to educate on it, but I think if i was in that position, I would be up for trying to have some kind of conversation with her and just make it more into a fun learning game rather than into a necessity to lose weight.
  • rheddmobile
    rheddmobile Posts: 6,841 Member
    You're in a terrible position which I don't envy.

    Since they insist on deceiving Kayla about knowing about you talking to her, you have an easy out. Say you will do it and then don't.
  • Pupslice
    Pupslice Posts: 213 Member
    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 thought the same thing, either that or they want you to talk to Kayla so you'll be the "bad guy" and not them (especially since you say they don't believe a calorie is a calorie and don't want Kayla eating things like cake or cheese, because they see those foods as bad or fattening and not as foods that can be incorporated in moderation into a healthy diet, and they seem more likely to forbid Kayla from having an occasional treat because ZOMG BAD FOOD!!!). I'm sorry you're in this position, it sounds very difficult and very unfair, and I would follow the suggestions of other posters and ask Kayla's parents take her to her doctor to discuss this matter, as you are not qualified to do so. Best of luck.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,488 Member
    Lol, sounds like they want you to do the parenting work.

    Indirectly, what you can just do is find a way to just make physical activity more important. That alone should just help with her.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

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  • AliceDark
    AliceDark Posts: 3,886 Member
    Here's another thought: at 11, she's likely old enough to start to learn some nutritional basics. Not calorie counting or restriction by any means, but she can start learning about the roles the different macro and micronutrients play. Make it about "this is why it's beneficial to eat a wide variety of foods" and not about cutting things out.

    Also, because she's at an age where she might start to go looking for information on dieting on the internet (and that's something she REALLY doesn't need to be doing), it might be okay for you to talk to her about why it's not a good idea for someone her age to start restricting her food. Don't introduce the topic in a way that could scare her, but you might talk about how she needs food and a wide variety of nutrients to fuel muscle/bone growth, etc. Since she's at least somewhat aware that you monitor your intake, you could approach it from the standpoint of making sure you're getting good nutrition (enough protein or servings of fruit/veg, etc.)
  • Chef_Barbell
    Chef_Barbell Posts: 6,656 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.

    So blackmail is the answer?
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,488 Member
    I don't know if this has been said: I didn't read every post/reply, but when I was a kid I was already binge-eating sugary and fatty treats in secret. Every day I would raid the kitchen for ice cream, cookies, potato chips, peanuts, and/or go to the neighborhood drugstore and have candy and cherry coke at the counter. I never got to be over-weight as a child, but I was super active and on athletic teams.

    I was using sugar to medicate uncomfortable situations even at age eight. It's just a thought. Are there foods available in the pantry or freezer that she could be eating in secret? Does she have access to money at all? She could be buying candy etc on the sly.

    If that's the case, I don't think any amount of good intentions will help. There may be some psychological reason. Definitely the doctor is in order.


  • Rusty740
    Rusty740 Posts: 749 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.

    So blackmail is the answer?

    No, did I say that. I said it's unlikely the parents will let her go so she doesn't need to feel that type of pressure.
  • nevadavis1
    nevadavis1 Posts: 339 Member
    I was using sugar to medicate uncomfortable situations even at age eight. It's just a thought. Are there foods available in the pantry or freezer that she could be eating in secret? Does she have access to money at all? She could be buying candy etc on the sly.

    Yeah, and when I did that when I was younger, in violation of my parents' anti-junk food rules (which not even they stuck to consistently) I was smart enough to consume stuff elsewhere and not bring home any evidence. Though in my case I had a double motive--if I bought junk food and my mother found it, I might be in trouble, if I bought junk food and my father found it, he would eat it....

    But good point, if you feel she is eating healthy foods and portions at home, then it might be that she is sneaking junk food in bigger amounts at school or when with friends.
  • Chef_Barbell
    Chef_Barbell Posts: 6,656 Member
    Rusty740 wrote: »
    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.

    So blackmail is the answer?

    No, did I say that. I said it's unlikely the parents will let her go so she doesn't need to feel that type of pressure.

    But the parents already put the pressure on in any event.
  • Rusty740
    Rusty740 Posts: 749 Member
    Rusty740 wrote: »
    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.

    So blackmail is the answer?

    No, did I say that. I said it's unlikely the parents will let her go so she doesn't need to feel that type of pressure.

    But the parents already put the pressure on in any event.

    She felt the pressure, but I don't think there's any point in worrying about it. She's got value, and the parents know it.
  • Clawsal
    Clawsal Posts: 255 Member
    Well if they pay you that well they can pay a professional (doctor) to help their child.
    I would tell them that:
    1. You are afraid counting calories as a child could lead to obsessive behavior and health problems such as anorexia
    2. Talking to Kayla about this without any professional input is dangerous and you don't want to be responsible for their child having health problems such as anorexia.
    (I stress anorexia because I feel many parents are afraid of this)
    3. You would be o.k. with helping Kayla follow whatever advice given by a professional - i.e. doctor, and she should be followed by one.

    However I can see their point that kids sometimes take advice more easily from acquaintances / professionals than parents. I remember tutoring kids that wouldn't sit for half an hour with their parents for homework without complaining but I would have no problem making them apply themselves for 1 hour.
  • Chef_Barbell
    Chef_Barbell Posts: 6,656 Member
    Rusty740 wrote: »
    Rusty740 wrote: »
    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.

    So blackmail is the answer?

    No, did I say that. I said it's unlikely the parents will let her go so she doesn't need to feel that type of pressure.

    But the parents already put the pressure on in any event.

    She felt the pressure, but I don't think there's any point in worrying about it. She's got value, and the parents know it.

    I personally wouldn't want to work in any environment where my job is dangled like a carrot to a horse. Especially when these are the people who are supposed to support.
  • Rusty740
    Rusty740 Posts: 749 Member
    Rusty740 wrote: »
    Rusty740 wrote: »
    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.

    So blackmail is the answer?

    No, did I say that. I said it's unlikely the parents will let her go so she doesn't need to feel that type of pressure.

    But the parents already put the pressure on in any event.

    She felt the pressure, but I don't think there's any point in worrying about it. She's got value, and the parents know it.

    I personally wouldn't want to work in any environment where my job is dangled like a carrot to a horse. Especially when these are the people who are supposed to support.

    You're not wrong, but it seems like a pretty good gig for the time being.