It’s My Body Mommy
By Shenaaz Moos – Happy Confident Me Counselling & Workshops
I’ve been wanting post this for the last few months about my 9 year old son’s issue with clothing, food, and just generally wanting to do his own thing. It’s difficult for a perfectionist or should I say recovering perfectionist mom to let go and let her children make their own choices especially when it comes to the health, hygiene and general well being. I’m learning slowly one day at a time to let the apron strings go, to loosen the umbilical cord and simply just let them be in their own space and to find their own way.
The first issue of food is that he doesn’t want to take more than one slice of bread to school a day. Since he started school at grade R, at the age of five he has been taking one slice cut in half, not one sandwich. He is currently in grade 3 and is still taking one slice and he’s at school from 7:45 until 3 PM in the afternoon. My greatest challenge now is to actually just understand he will eat what he wants to eat, when he wants to eat. He has alway been a picky eater and is not a fan of bread and prefers snacks like biltong and pretzels, so now I stock up on those things make tiny lunchbox size bags and off you go. Every now and then I gently enquire if I can make him another sandwich, to which he replies “No thanks mom, I am fine just with one”. Message received 😃
As the weather began to change I kept on asking him to put his jersey on every morning and he says “no I’m fine” until eventually I became quite aggressive and forceful and got taken right back to my angry mommy phase. I had to explain that I was worried about him getting sick and he replied “Mom, if I’m going to get cold, I’ll let you know but I’m going to have a jacket on for now” but when I pick him up in the afternoon he has no jacket on, just a short sleeve shirt 😡.
So I had to look inwards and figure out why it was so important for me to make sure that he wasn’t cold or that he wouldn’t go hungry. Why couldn’t I just trust in his own judgement? Why did I feel the need to control every single thing once again? Then after some introspection, I realize I was still perpetuating the pattern of parenting that I had been given. It came with the message that moms know everything, only moms are all powerful, and mom is always right. This was clashing with my conscious parenting journey 😱. It was then that I decided that I need to listen to my son, honour his request and just respect his wishes about how he you feels about his body and the choices he makes.
He’s a very intelligent nine year old but for some reason I just kept on questioning his choices as if somehow the repetitive nagging of the same question 1000 times over would finally make him change his answer. What I’ve come to realise is that I’m the one who needs to change my questions, stop imposing my position on things on him so that our morning transition off to school will go back to its peaceful wonderful connecting routine. Good news, it did 😊
So if you are like me and struggle with this helicopter, controlling, perfectionist tendencies as a parent , here are some guidelines for you :
1. Listen to hear, instead of listening to manipulate.
Example of a manipulator response: “Yes, I hear you saying you don’t get cold but you must wear your jersey so you don’t get sick and then mummy must take you to the doctor. You know how busy I am!”
Example of conscious parenting response :
“It’s hard for me to let you just go to school without your jersey but I am ok with you wearing your jacket only. So for now, let’s leave it but don’t forget the jersey is here any time that you need it.”
2. Respecting their choices.
Example of manipulating response :
“If you don’t eat breakfast in the morning, your brain won’t be able to work/ your stomach will growl and then teacher will know/ you will fall asleep on your desk because of your low blood Sugar etc”
Example of conscious parenting response :
“I can see that you struggle in the morning to eat and are super excited to get to school. So how about eating a packet of biltong or pretzels so you can take your MultiVitamins.”
Hope you find it useful 👍