Talking to your Children about your Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery is a life-changing event. Whether you get it in Huntsville, Alabama or anywhere else in the world, it is something that is as drastic as the death of a loved one, moving far away or getting a divorce. There are a lot of elements that can play into the success of and recovery after weight loss surgery. Relationships, portion control, exercise programs, finding other people who have gone through the same thing. But what most people don’t think about is how it affects the youngest members of our family, our children. A lot of what we do affects their lives, whether we realize it or not. And while no parent is perfect, and will ever leave a child feeling 100% unscathed from the changes in their lives, that does not mean that we should not be mindful of our changes in their lives.
Children may not have the same understanding of things like adults do sometimes. However, that does not mean that they are unable to notice the changes in habits and visually before, during, and after the weight loss surgery.
So, we are going to talk about how you can talk about your weight loss surgery to your children.
Your Journey is a Teachable Moment
There is a term in every teaching handbook known as a teachable moment. A teachable moment is described as ” an unplanned opportunity that arises in the classroom where a teacher has a chance to offer insight to his or her students.” However, I would argue that this sort of opportunity is available to anyone who is an integral part of a child’s life, not just a teacher. Especially, when it comes to the family members that are raising their child.
Things like good eating habits, exercise, and a positive mental attitude in regards to health are taught. The opposite is true. Both positive and negative attitudes towards something like eating healthy, exercise, and body image are taught. So, it would especially make sense that your own journey through weight loss surgery is a teachable moment. With this in mind, there is no doubt that is very important that you talk with your children about your weight loss surgery.
So, how do you make this teachable moment or smaller life lessons work to your advantage?
Due to the importance of your weight loss surgery, you want to break the news about your appointment asap. You want to have the whole family involved in a meeting with a distraction-free environment.
Make sure electronics are turned off. Set time aside for breaking the news, so you can answer questions and let them process everything. Don’t be surprised if they repeat questions or take a minute or two to gather what they want to say.
Communicate on their Level
Children, by nature, are inquisitive. They may not retain everything they learn from the jump, but that does stop them from noticing every change that is happening in front of them. This means that they are going to pick up your body going through a drastic physical change after weight loss surgery.
It is also important to recognize that children want to be part of the family. No matter how small of a part they get to play. When you openly communicate with them, they will feel like they are valuable and important in your relationship and in the family.
They can also forgetful sometimes. They may come up with questions that they didn’t have before in your big discussion about weight loss surgery. That is okay. Be patient. If they are showing a willingness to learn, then they are most likely not being mean-spirited.
Just answer their questions clearly, and as candid as you can. Preferably without using terms that will go over their head or visceral imagery.
If your children are older, along the lines of teenagers, you can guide the conversation based on what they already know. From there you can confirm facts or deny misconceptions. If they are mature enough, there is always a possibility that they can visit with you during one of your consultations, provided that you have permission from the doctor to do so.
Stress the Importance of a Healthier Life
The major question that most children and even adults come up with is “Why”. They want to know why the person they love the most is doing something to change their body. They are going to want to understand why you are going on a liquid diet, and why you will be eating less.
Instead of coming from a place of self-loathing, disgust or any other emotion that might come from a place of severe anxiety or insecurity, tell them that you are doing this for the benefit of your health. Let them know that this is what you and the doctor think is best. That you are doing this so you can be around them more and can do more with them.
It is okay to let them know you might be a little nervous from time to time. Or that you feel tired. Just don’t let them carry all the emotional weight of what you are going through during the procedure. Just give them what they can handle.
Mistakes will be made, and there will be frustration along the way, but if you are open with your children, and let them know that you love them and yourself, everything will be a little less painful for everyone involved.