Teaching our Daughters to be Healthy, Not Skinny!

If you watched any portion of the Academy Awards Sunday night, you must have noticed the number of women who looked unusually thin. And the media makes it worse by talking about how good these women look!

I love this post  by Christina Katz and am re-posting it with her permission. It’s a great reminder of how we, as parents, are responsible for what we’re teaching our young ladies about their size. Don’t leave it up to the media and expect your daughter to get a healthy message. Take responsbility for teaching your daughter/stepdaughter to be comfortable in her own skin, regardless of her size.

From Christina’s blog:

“In every household over dinner tonight, all over the world, I hope that the conversation will turn to a very serious subject:

Why are so many women in attendance at the Academy Awards last night starving themselves?

Are their families blind to this? Where are the people who love these women?

Because the camera is supposed to add ten-fifteen pounds. If that’s the case, then these women must look like Holocaust survivors in-person.

When my daughter was just seven years old and in second grade, she began noticing that her friends are thinner than she is. And so the conversation began in our house.

It goes something like this.

Mom, how come I’m not as thin as my friends? I’m fat. I don’t want to be fat. I want to be skinny like my friends!

Answer: Some women are lean and some women are curvy, but it’s never healthy to be too thin or to diet just for the sake of becoming skinny.

Answer: It’s never a good idea to try and change your appearance to please others. It doesn’t matter what your friends look like, it’s much more important to love and accept yourself for who you are.

Answer: You and your friends have different body types, and they are going to change even more over the next few years, and none of them are going to look exactly alike, nor do they look alike now.

It’s never a good idea to impress upon a young girl that she is not thin enough to be acceptable or to make her afraid of becoming fat.

The only sensible reason to try and change your body is for health reasons and then the only acceptable approach is to eat better and exercise more in a moderate, gradual way without shaming or pressure.

My daughter is curvy. I am curvy. Maybe you are curvy, too.

I am putting out a call tonight. We all need to have to have conversations with our daughters and tell them that they way those women looked at the Academy Awards is NOT a healthy choice. And we need to pressure the media and the industry authorities and actresses themselves to take responsibility for the horrifying examples that they are setting for the daughters of the world.

It’s up to us to help our daughters understand that the healthy choice is to be more tolerant and accepting of what our bodies want to look like and less tolerant of unacceptable — and unsustainable — images of women.

These women look like they are going to die from starving themselves. I sincerely hope that this does not turn out to be the case.

But those Academy-award nominated actresses are putting our daughters at risk. And it is inexcusable as an example, whether they are sick or not.

And anyone in the industry who is putting pressure on them to starve themselves for success is guilty of injuring the world’s daughters, period.

I hope every mother in America will talk to her daughter tonight. And tell her, you NEVER have to look like that to be loved.

And then hug her and love her exactly the way she is. And ask her to do the same with herself.

And if you have an eating disorder or weight obsession, I hope you will seek help for your sake and for all of our daughters’ sakes.

Please copy and paste this meme into your blog so long as you link here. Or blog a response and link back to this post. And then talk to your daughters and report about the results online. Enough is enough!

We can change our daughters’ futures by raising our own awareness about self-abuse among women and talking openly and honestly about how to love and accept ourselves instead of further dis-empowering and abusing our bodies.”

Do you agree? I would love to hear your comments.

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Nuggets of Wisdom from Laura Petherbridge, author of The Smart Stepmom

When Stepfamily Life Gets Messy



Seven Tips for Finding Balance in the Midst of Holiday Chaos

Our family leaves on an extended holiday trip in just over 2 weeks and I keep wondering how I’m going to get everything done. So, here are a few tips I’ve created to help myself maintain balance during this busy time of year – I hope you find them helpful also.

1. Prioritze your schedule to include activities most important to you. Say no to everything else and to obligations someone else can manage.
For me, that includes attending my son’s Christmas party at school, special church services, a holiday piano performance in our hometown, a few Christmas parties, and various other events. However, it doesn’t include ladies bunko night, the symphony performance, or lunch with each of my girlfriends to exchange gifts – there simply isn’t time for all that. 

2. Start each day with a spiritual act – prayer, devotional, Bible reading, listening to songs of praise, etc. to center your mind and soul for the day.
When we start our day with God in control, it allows for a God-centered day instead of a  man-centered one.  

3. Don’t allow someone else power over your emotions (i.e. ex-spouses, children/stepchildren).
Commit to staying in control of your emotions instead of allowing someone else to take that power from you. Walk away from volatile emotions or heated conversations. Engage in communication via e-mail or texting if necessary.

4. Stay faithful to healthy eating patterns and a regular exercise routine.
Get up earlier than usual if you need to, but don’t skimp on exercise and sensible eating. You will feel better and manage your demanding schedule more competently if you maintain healthy habits through the season.

5. Break down consuming tasks into chunk-size actions that can be completed a little at a time.
For instance, I easily become overwhelmed when I think about shopping for our five children in addition to parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. However, if  I choose one child to focus on until I’m finished and then move to the next child or a parent or whatever, the task seems less daunting.

6. Commit to making each day positive.
We have so much to be thankful for and if we choose to focus on the positives in our life, we will manage our schedule with greater ease. If we have a bump in the road one day, we can choose to pick ourselves up and keep moving forward instead of allowing negative thoughts to set in.

7. Read Thriving at the Holidays: A Stepparent’s Guide to Success – Unwrapping the Gift of Peace (an easy-to-read e-book) to find additional tips on maintaing balance and creating a peaceful season.  

There they are – 7 tips for finding balance during holiday chaos.

Do you another tip to add? Would you please share it with us?

Related Posts:

Holiday Tip: Balancing Your Time as you Consider What’s Important

Holiday Tips for Stepfamilies: Live One Day at a Time

Managing Your Stepfamily’s Finances in a Tight Economy

With three kids in college, our family is learning how to live on a budget again. It’s not easy, but it isn’t the first time finances have been tight at our house.

Most stepfamilies will encounter periods of financial distress. The complexity of: overcoming loss of income from divorce, dispersing child support payments, learning to manage money together with several children, and coping with increasing expenses as the family grows all contribute to a financial burden for a stepfamily.  

So, how do you cope with the stress of too many expenses and not enough money to go around?

For my husband and I, the first thing we do is ask the Lord for wisdom. Are we being good stewards of our money, are we abiding by a budget that allows us to see where our money is being spent, do we have a reasonable plan in place to pay off our debt?

And as we look at our finances together, it’s important that my husband and I are on the same page. It may be necessary to take intentional steps toward reducing our expenses and we must be able to come to an agreement on how to do so.

If one spouse is a shopper and the other is a hoarder, there will be some difficult conversation regarding how money will be spent. But it’s necessary to confront the issue and resolve it before it creates a major problem in the marriage.

It’s also important to hold our children accountable for their part of the financial equation. When money is tight, children can be taught to lower their expectations of a designer-clad wardrobe or the ongoing purchase of  the latest technology gadget. And as they get older, they can be expected to maintain a job and contribute toward the expenses of owning a car, securing auto insurance, and other extra-curricular expenses incurred during the teenage years.

It’s also helpful to have a pool of money for reserve when your family hits a difficult financial period.When my husband lost his job earlier this year, we weren’t prepared for a financial emergency. But the likelihood of job loss is very real in today’s economy and cannot be ignored.

We are living in difficult economic times. But despite sobering statistics, we can trust God’s promises to carry us through the peaks and the valleys. Our family has experienced His provision firsthand this year.

Psalm 23:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Do you have other suggestions for successfully managing your stepfamily’s finances?

Related posts:

Stepfamily Finances: Making it Work

Trusting God with our Finances

Back to School Routines and Your Stepfamily- Peaceful or Chaotic?

As another school year gets underway, many stepfamilies are adjusting to new routines. Stepchildren may be adjusting to different expectations at Mom and Dad’s house with homework and after-school activities. Stepparents may be forced to alter everyday patterns to accomodate bus schedules or after-school pickup.

The changing routines can wreak havoc on a stepfamily already struggling with fragile egos and tense emotions.

For stepparents, navigating a successful path through the back to school maze takes a calm spirit and flexible attitude. 

I recall stressful mornings of years’ past as I struggled to get out the door to my full-time job while making sure our four children had breakfast, a packed lunch, school papers signed, an after-school pickup plan, and were headed to the bus by 7:30. I recall telling a counselor during our early years of marriage, “School mornings are too stressful and I’m not sure how to change it.”

Oftentimes, the only thing we can change to make stepfamily living less stressful is ourselves. I couldn’t change the crazy schedule we lived for several years with kids navigating between households, stressful jobs, and defiant attitudes. But I could change how I reacted to the stress of the situation.

When I made an intentional effort to stay calm during the heat of a battle with one of my stepchildren, I made strides toward a positive outcome while resolving the conflict. When I chose to stay flexible through an ever-changing back and forth routine with my stepchildren, I was better able to meet the demands required of me with those routines.

I’m not saying it was easy. I like routine and I want the routine to stay the same every day. But that’s simply not possible in stepfamilies.

I like an orderly home with school papers put in place, and homework assignments completed on time. But  I learned to adjust to the erratic ways of teen-agers who seem to work best with papers scattered all around while completing a project, or head-banging music that  helps them think while they finish their paper at midnight (which was always restricted to their bedroom!)

Back to school routines create yet another stressful period as stepfamilies make adjustments to accommodate one another. But with a flexible attitude and a calm spirit, we can help our stepchildren adjust to their new routines and thrive in their new school surroundings, creating an environment in our home that benefits each one of us.

How is your back to school routine going? Does it need a dose of flexibility or an extra effort toward a calm spirit?

Pic by dan


Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

What’s stressing you today? Have the little things of life become big things because you’re having trouble letting go? Is your stepchild relationship experiencing a small leak that’s about to lead to a blowout?

How we react to what happens around us determines a hostile or peaceful outcome. If my stepson shoots a glaring look my way, I can choose to ignore it or I can let it ruin my day. If my stepdaughter challenges my thinking on something I believe in, I can spout off a defensive remark or I can stand firm in my position while shrugging my shoulders.

There are a multitude of things that happen every day in our stepfamily relationships that are not worth getting stressed about. When we identify which battles we want to fight, and leave the rest alone, we find more serentiy for our journey. 

My good friend and stepfamily authority, Ron L. Deal, says his whole perspective on life changed after he lost his son from a brief illness. He says he doesn’t stress anymore about a spilled drink in the living room or whether every paper gets put in the recycling bin. Life is simply too short to spend our days bothered over trivial matters.

In his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff, Dr. Richard Carlson says he plays a game with himself called the “time warp.” He says, “I made it up in response to my consistent, erroneous belief that what I was all worked up about was really important. To play “time warp,” all you have to do is imagine that whatever circumstance you are dealing with isn’t happening right now but a year from now. Then simply ask yourself, ‘Is this situation really as important as I’m making it out to be? Will this matter a year from now?’ Once in a great while it may be — but a vast majority of the time, it simply isn’t.”

So, next time your stepchild leaves his laundry in the washing machine and goes to school, leaving it for you to finish, remind yourself that it won’t matter a year from now. That doesn’t mean you don’t address the issue when he comes in from school and seek to correct it from happening again, but it does mean you choose not to stew over it the rest of the day.

Are you sweating the small stuff in your stepfamily relationships?

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Let Go of the Guilt

Stepfamily Trap: The Danger of Denying our Feelings

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Making Time for What Matters

Making Time for What Matters in Your Stepfamily

Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” Francis Chan

I’ve always admired Tony Dungy. As head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, he was the first African American coach to achieve a Super Bowl victory. The 2007 win put him in an elite echelon of only three individuals who have won the Super Bowl as a player and head coach.

But those accomplishments aren’t what make Coach Dungy stand out from his peers. It’s his passionate desire to walk a path of significance characterized by uncommon attitudes, ambitions, and allegiances. He knows how to distinguish the important from the unimportant and fashion his time after what matters.

In his book, Uncommon, Finding Your Path to Significance, Coach Dungy says, “We have all missed too many memories and moments in our lives because of poorly ordered priorities. But even so, it’s never too late to set things straight … Start here: ‘Seek first his kingdom.’ (Matthew 6:33). Take a few moments to be quiet and spend time with God. He will lessen your worries about tomorrow and release you from the breathless pace of the world’s urgent priorities.”

Time spent on what matters most will look different to each of us. But if we aren’t intentional with our time, we find ourselves on the treadmill of busyness, focused on the urgency of the present, instead of the lasting permanence of significant moments.

Stepparenting is a time-consuming endeavor if we take it seriously. But, I believe it’s an important role and one worth making time for. Do you agree?

How do you spend your time? Are you making time for what matters?

Related Posts:

Making Your Re-Marriage Work: Embrace Flexibility

Setting Boundaries as a Stepparent