• Suzie Glassman

How to Ask Relatives Not to Talk About Your Child's Body


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I open the door to frantic hellos from my parents, who I haven't seen in several months. My children run to their grandparents and give "squeezy" hugs. "Look how tall you've gotten," exclaims my mom to my son. "You're so skinny," she says to her granddaughter.


I love my parents, and I'm thrilled to have their company. They're kind, loving, and generous, but the focus on my children's appearance makes me cringe. My son is self-conscious about his shorter height compared to his peers, and my daughter's weight loss is from the medication she's taking.


For relatives who've gone an extended time without seeing each other, it may be hard not to say something. Still, I'm afraid the focus on physical appearance isn't healthy. Talking about body size, regardless of whether it's a compliment or said with concern for the child's health, can be damaging. Research shows kids internalize these messages and can develop disordered eating habits.


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