Katherine Schwarzenegger, Katie Couric on parents and self-esteem
When it comes to diet and exercise, there's a fine line between parents' setting a good example for their daughters and pressuring them to follow your lead. That's the upshot of Katherine Schwarzenegger's chat this morning with Katie Couric and parental influence on kids' self-esteem.
Fair enough. But I wish somebody could tell me where that fine line is.
Schwarzenegger, 20, is promoting her new book "Rock What You've Got", and she spoke with Couric (on her show "@katiecouric" on CBSNews.com) about a number of topics related to young womanhood and body image. It's interesting to hear that a beautiful and accomplished person such as herself has struggled with such issues at all -- but, then, don't we all think we're the only person who has such problems?
But listening to Katherine and Katie dance around what's okay -- and what's not -- for a mom (or dad) to say and do to encourage her daughter's healthy lifestyle made my head swim. It's okay to exercise -- but not to excess. It's good to maintain a healthy weight -- but you shouldn't talk about dieting all the time. It's fine to say, oh, here's a healthful meal that provides all kinds of vitamins, but not to hint that your daughter doesn't need seconds. And all the while, you've got to maintain vigilant control of your body language and facial expressions.
The stakes? Getting it wrong could damage your child's self-esteem, maybe even trigger an eating disorder.
I was once a teenage daughter, and I remember hating that look on my mother's face when I could tell she disapproved of my appearance but was doing her level best not to betray it. As the mother of a beautiful teenage daughter myself, I have found myself making that very same face -- and hating myself for it.
But you know what? None of us is perfect. Is it really necessary for us to be incessantly mindful of the way any sideways glance might be interpreted, to carefully craft every utterance about appearance, nutrition and fitness? I had to learn to deal with my mom's sideways glances -- and their impact on my self esteem -- and my daughter has to learn to deal with mine. Maybe she, and I, are both stronger for it.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
| September 17, 2010; 1:37 PM ET
Categories: Eating disorders, Nutrition and Fitness, Teens, Women's Health
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