Thursday, December 29, 2011

Obesity, Bonding, and Research-Induced Guilt

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A new study from Ohio State University found that toddlers who display signs of poor maternal attachment are much more likely to be obese as teenagers.  I hardly find this surprising; after all, people who lack strong emotional support often turn to food for comfort, pleasure, and fulfillment. 

I've already seen several bloggers and commenters describe this study as "just one more thing for moms to feel guilty about."  That reaction surprises me because, come on now, don't most parents already realize that a lack of parent-child bonding can have devastating consequences? 

It seems that every time science reinforces things we should already know (Eat healthy foods when you're pregnant.  Don't let your kids watch too much TV.  Bond with your babies.), scads of parents get up-in-arms about how researchers are just looking for ways to make us all feel guilty.  I find that stance incredibly frustrating because, well, maybe we should all feel just a little bit guilty for feeding gestating babies junk, plopping toddlers in front of the tube, and being too busy to connect with our offspring.  And maybe we do need to take these studies seriously, reform our parenting behaviors, and make better choices for our kids - even if it means sacrificing some of our own time/patience/pleasure/sanity.

So, yes, if I'm not actively committed to bonding with my baby, then I should feel guilty about it.  And more importantly, I should change

I realize this entire post sounds incredibly harsh and judgmental.  I'm sorry for that, but only just a little bit.  I hate to hurt people's feelings, but I also think it's incredibly important to speak the truth, even when it's painful.  And right now, the truth is that we're raising a generation of kids who are physically and emotionally unhealthy - dangerously so.  We as parents need to do something about it.  There's no time to wait for the day when we have more money or more time or less stress.  Our kids' health and future and lives depend on it.

So I'm all in favor of studies that tell us what's going wrong for kids today, provided they also make recommendations for how we as parents can fix it.  And if these studies make me feel guilty or inadequate or compelled to change my parenting style, so be it.  My fragile ego isn't nearly as important as my son's well-being.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe we do need to take these studies seriously, reform our parenting behaviors, and make better choices for our kids.
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