More on Boundaries


One way that we describe becoming an intuitive eater and intrinsic exerciser to participants at Green Mountain is that it’s like being a kid again — eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full, and moving your body for pleasure.

I’ve often wondered about those childhood experiences where kids are required to eat everything on their plate, or "forced" to eat all their vegetables, and where dessert is treated like a reward for eating it all. As adults these former Clean Plate Club kids won’t have had the experience of eating in response to hunger and stopping when satiated. This kind of enforced eating is, to me, a blatant violation of parent-child boundaries, which I talked about in my post last week.

And here’s a little more food for thought (pun intended) – Dr. Kyung Rhee, Research Fellow at Boston University School of Medicine is the lead author of  a study that found that children of authoritarian parents were five times as likely to be overweight than children of authoritative parents.

Authoritarian parents are described as laying down the rules and the child has to obey. Authoritative parents bear in mind a child’s thoughts and opinions when setting and applying rules.

Here are some comparisons of incidence of overweight when compared to children of Authoritative parents:

— Children of Authoritarian Parents
5 times higher risk of being overweight

— Children of Permissive Parents
2 times the risk of being overweight

— Neglectful Parents
2 times the risk of being overweight

The researchers were not surprised with the results. Previous studies had indicated that children of Authoritative parents did better academically, had better self-control, were less likely to have depressive symptoms, and were less risk-taking as teenagers – when compared to children of the three other types of parents.

The researchers are not sure why there is a difference. Perhaps, said Rhee, Authoritative parents provide the child with both the space and the guidance to develop his/her own self-regulatory abilities. She suggested that perhaps, while an authoritarian parent will just order the child to finish of his/her vegetable, an authoritative parent might offer two or three and give the child some choice.

The child of an authoritarian parent may not be listening to his/her body because all decisions are made by the parent. Being less in tune with your body makes it more difficult to decide exactly how full you are.

While a child of authoritarian parents has no influence over the boundaries, children of authoritative ones do – the boundaries are there, but to a certain extent they are more negotiable, and perhaps they were set with some of the children’s input.

This information found at Medical News Today, “Strict Parenting Raises Risk of Child Obesity” written by Christian Nordqvist.

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