Sometimes, a child’s worst enemy is his/her parents.
Mood music: “Institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies (The Pepsi Song):
If I’ve learned anything on my long journey to recovery, it’s that addicts can almost always trace their behavior back to their parents. That’s certainly the case for me. My mother was always pushing food on me. She did it out of love and meant no harm, but that and the Crohn’s Disease battle certainly tilted my addictive behavior toward the compulsive binge eating.
If a parent drinks or drugs to excess, there’s a better-than-average chance their kids are going to do the same thing in adulthood.
Recovering addicts have noted this thread in their own lives time and again at the 12-Step meetings I go to.
Chris Hoff, a good friend of mine from the Internet security industry and perhaps one of the most prolific presences on Twitter, saw a good example of this brand of parental failure in a coffee shop yesterday morning. I’ll share his tweets on the subject, since his content is all public record at this point:
Noticing a fat guy feeding his obese son three doughnuts and yelling at the poor kid for being too slow, Hoff (Twitter handle is @Beaker) wrote:
Hint: If your 4-foot-something 8-year-old weighs more than me, you’re doing it wrong. Makes me want to cry. F’ing up your life is one thing, but his? 😦 It’s not that I’m insensitive to his plight; been there. However he’s helping end his kid’s life early by poisoning him with junk and mean words.
He noted, correctly I think, that kids inherently know what’s healthy but they still fall into bad behavior that parents either can’t or won’t stop. Often, they enable it.
I’m no saint when it comes to parenting. I’ve tried to curb my use of profanity but sometimes it just comes out in hearing distance of my kids. And I credit Erin for their healthy diets because she has always been relentless about giving the kids balanced, low-fat meals. They’ve eaten at McDonald’s maybe once or twice. That place was often ground zero for my binges, so I NEVER take them there.
But, like I said, no parent is perfect.
Nevertheless, I still go into a rage when I hear about the kind of situations Hoff was talking about. I don’t know that guy’s story, and maybe I’d be more sympathetic if I did. But letting his kid grow morbidly obese and enabling it by feeding him three doughnuts makes him an asshole in my mind. Maybe that’s hypocritical of me, but there it is.
One of my friends has a cousin who lets her son eat nothing but junk. The kid weights twice as much as both my kids put together. She feeds them the stuff because it’s easier than cooking something better. I think she’s an asshole, too. Sorry, but I do.
When you’re an addict, it’s exceptionally hard not to pass the behavior down to your children. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying to make them better than we are.
The shit-for-brains dad in the coffee shop either doesn’t understand that or doesn’t care.