I want to send my chubby six-year-old daughter to a fat camp

I want to send my chubby six-year-old daughter to a fat camp

November 16, 2023

DEAR JANE: I want to send my chubby six-year-old daughter to a fat camp – my husband says I’m being shallow and cruel

  • In her latest agony aunt column, best-selling author Jane Green give some very frank advice to a mother who is concerned about her daughter’s wellbeing 
  • She also writes to a woman who is being harassed by her young son’s teacher 
  • Do you have a question for Jane? Email [email protected] or ask it below
  • READ MORE: I discovered my husband’s best friend is CHEATING on his wife

Dear Jane,

I am the mother of two amazing children – and have always done everything in my power to ensure that they are healthy, happy, and set up to achieve incredible success in their lives. 

For my 10 year old, that system has worked perfectly. He speaks Chinese thanks to a tutor after schools, he plays instruments, he’s active and loves sports, and he’s performing really well at school.

But my six-year-old daughter has always found it harder to reach the high standards that we’ve set for both our kids. She struggles in school, doesn’t show any interest in the extra curricular activities that we sign her up for – and now she has started to binge eat. 

I don’t want to deny a child who needs food but my daughter has been sneaking candy when she thinks we aren’t looking and at dinner she shovels food into her mouth without any control. The housekeeper told me yesterday that she always finds food wrappers under her bed, and it’s always junk food.

These unhealthy eating habits have caused her to gain a lot of weight – and any time we try and restrict her or put her on a diet, she screams, cries and throws huge tantrums. She looks unhealthy and I’ve noticed that other people are starting to throw judgmental stares our way when we’re out in public.

Dear Jane, my six-year-old daughter has developed some unhealthy eating habits that have made her gain weight – I want to send her to a weight-loss camp but my husband won’t allow it

I’ve been doing some research and came across a treatment facility for young children who are struggling with food and impulse control. It’s basically like a summer camp, but they teach nutrition and portion restriction, and I think it might help her to be around other kids who have similar issues to her.

But when I told my husband, he went nuts, telling me that it was cruel to even think about sending our daughter to ‘fat camp’ and that it would damage her permanently. He said I was obsessed with having the ‘perfect’ daughter and that it’s ‘shallow’ of me to be so focused on her looks.

I am so hurt by his accusations. I am focused on nothing but my daughter’s health and happiness – and although her health may have an impact on the way she looks, that is not the reason behind my wanting to send her to this camp. 

I only have my daughter’s best interests at heart and don’t know what I can do to make my husband realize that?

It feels like he’s trying to turn a blind eye to what is very clearly a major issue… so how do I open his eyes?


A Mother’s Love

Dear A Mother’s Love,

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m afraid your husband is right on this one.

I don’t know whether you work, or have something that keeps you busy, but it feels like you may be living vicariously through your children, putting them under tremendous pressure to excel in every area of life, telling yourself it’s for them, it’s because you want them to succeed, but in fact it is about your children being a reflection of you.

International best-selling author Jane Green offers sage advice on DailyMail.com readers’ most burning issues in her Dear Jane agony aunt column

I live in a town where I see this every day, women who have given up their high-powered jobs to be a ‘full-time stay-at-home-mom’, who then parent in the same way they worked, solely focused on raising perfect children who get into the best schools and hopefully go on to lead extraordinary lives.

They too tell themselves they are doing this for their children, and yet I see numerous examples of these children having – like your daughter – eating disorders, huge anxiety, being carted off to therapy to solve these issues, not realizing that it all stems from the pressure that is being put on these kids by none other than their parents.

So I am asking you to stop. Stop worrying about your daughter’s weight and food issues. Stop worrying that she won’t achieve what you want for her in life if she is not a perfect size. Stop putting pressure on both your children to be the best, the thinnest, the prettiest. 

Your job as a mother is to provide love, security, and boundaries; it is to raise children who are happy and secure in their skins, who know how to navigate the world with clear eyes and kindness. Whether they go to Harvard or Yale is irrelevant. 

You need to support them in what is best for them, giving them advice when needed rather than forcing them down a path that may not be right for them.

With regard to food, the absolute worst thing you can do is judge, restrict, or put her on a diet. Sending her to ‘fat camp’ will shame her in a way that will last a lifetime. 

I do suggest however, you find your daughter a local therapist who specializes in eating disorders, and then step out and leave it to the professionals. I would like you and your husband to also meet with your daughter’s therapist, and ask how you should behave with her around food. 

I am certain she will tell you to withhold judgmental comments and looks, to keep quiet when your daughter reaches for a second or third helping.

Your daughter has her own path. It may not be the path you would choose, but your job is to support her in finding a life that works for her.

I would also suggest you find a purpose other than being a ‘Tiger Mom’ to your kids. Whether that’s finding a job, getting involved with a charity, volunteering, or taking classes, focusing on yourself and finding fulfilment in your own life will help you shift your focus onto healthier things.

Dear Jane,

Over the past few months, I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable around my son’s male teacher because he keeps making suggestive comments to me – even in front of my husband.

He’s an awesome teacher and has helped my son to come out of his shell since the start of the school year – which is why I’ve hesitated to say anything before now. 

But we had a meeting with him the other day and some of the things he was saying to me were just so awful and inappropriate. He even winked at me when he knew my husband was in full view.

I could tell my husband was trying his best not to say anything in front of him, but when we got home, he flipped. He was furious that I had ‘allowed’ that kind of behavior and even suggested that I ‘liked it’ because I hadn’t immediately shut this man down.

Dear Jane’s Sunday Service 

What a trap we fall into as parents, wanting our beloved offspring to have everything we didn’t have, to have strength and glory where we had our flaws, to achieve everything in life that we dreamed of having for ourselves. 

The pressure that children today feel is doing immeasurable damage. 

By the time they hit their teenage years, 18 per cent of children in the US have experienced symptoms of a clinical anxiety disorder. 

Parents? Hit the pause button. Support your kids in doing the things they love, not the things you believe they should love. Take the pressure off, let them be kids, and limit their time on screens.

We had a huge fight about it and now I’m terrified to go anywhere near the school in case this man tries to say something again.

I don’t want my son’s education to suffer here, but it’s now reached the point where my marriage is suffering and that’s too painful to bear.

Please help.


Teacher’s Pet

Dear Teacher’s Pet,

What a strange situation to find yourself in. I find myself a little bewildered as to why neither of you have been able to say anything, but it is time to speak up.

To know exactly where you stand, I would start by getting in touch with an ENOUGH advocate – these are equal rights advocates (found at equalrights.org) who deal with students who are being sexually harassed. 

Whilst this does not precisely apply to you, I imagine that one of their volunteer lawyers will be able to advise you of your rights, and what steps should be taken.

Please do this with your husband, so he can hear the whole story and partner with you on how to deal with it. I am concerned that your husband was angry with you over something you clearly have no control over. 

The two of you need to talk this through to find out what you each are frightened of with regards to saying something, and what you think might happen. 

The two of you need to find alignment and unity in how you deal with this. If you cannot do this alone, I suggest you both speak to a couple’s therapist to talk this through and see if there are greater issues that need to be addressed.

As for this harming your child, know that kids are remarkably resilient. If your son is moved to another class, he will get through it. 

At the end of the school year, he would have had to deal with moving on, and this would just bring that date forward.

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