Dear Annie: My 4-year-old granddaughter, “Jill,” visited recently and declared, “My mommy told me to watch what I eat because she doesn’t want me get heavy.” Jill is certainly not heavy, and I was appalled that she was being told such a thing. I assured her that she is perfect.
My son is divorced from Jill’s mother. He informed me that his ex does indeed send this type of message to her little girl. My son is a great father. He tries to avoid confrontations with his ex and her parents, as they can be manipulative and self-centered.
I will never speak disparagingly to my granddaughter about her mother, but I am concerned about the consequences such messages deliver on a little girl’s self-image. Obviously, her mother and grandparents are a huge influence. Should I stay silent and let my son deal with his ex? – Concerned Nana
Dear Nana: You should not say anything to the ex, but encourage your son to do so. A 4-year-old girl should be eating roughly 1,200 calories a day with an emphasis on healthy foods that provide her with the proper nutrients. It’s OK to teach Jill which foods are helpful for her body and which are not. But Mom should not give the message that Jill isn’t good enough unless she is skinny, nor should Mom be restricting her daughter’s calories in an effort to make her thin.
Please tell your son to discuss this with Jill’s pediatrician. He needs to be her advocate. But you also are an influence in Jill’s life. When she visits you, make her feel loved no matter how she looks or what she eats.