As a pre-teen and teenager, I never had any hangups about food. I never dieted or worried about my weight, and any image-awareness I had was just the regular self-consiousness of your average teenage girl.
As a mother, however, I am a lot more conscious of some of the issues that girls (in particular) have, and although my oldest girl is only turning 8 later this summer, I am on alert. Girls - even girls who live in rural area - are growing up faster these days, and it shocks me when I hear of girls in junior grades talking about their weight and who is thin and who is not. Particularly as their notions are driven in part by a media-obsessed society.
Anna has a naturally slim build. She is lanky and fit and healthy and seemingly un-self conscious. But I've noticed recently that she is "not all that hungry" at dinnertime more than usual, and while I'm not alarmed (it's quite possible that she just isn't that hungry), I am watching just a little more closely.
I'm taking the opportunity to talk more about food and healthy choices. Anna already likes to cook, so I make the effort to involve her more - my rationale being to encourage her to forge a good relationship with food, one that she controls - and while we're in the kitchen we are also communicating which is paramount for any number of reasons as we head towards the pre-teen years.
She's only 7, I hear you say. But those 7 years have flown by, and in 7 more it will be too late. I've spent the past 7 years raising her to be the confident, healthy child she is, and my job now is to nurture that child so that she becomes a confident, healthy teen, with the tools she needs to navigate the minefield of adolescence.
N0-one said being a mom was easy!