Posted by: zenmamajo | March 23, 2011

Asian Parents Afraid to Say “No” to 132lb, 3 yr-old Son…

first of all…who doesn’t say “no” to their 3 yr old kid??? second of all…well…i won’t comment on the weight of the kid because i recognize i don’t know all the details…maybe there is a genetic disorder…okay – what in the world am i talking about?…i just read an article titled “chinese, boy, 3, weighs a whopping 132 pounds“. in summary – it’s about a couple who’s 3-yr old is beyond obese for his age and they are afraid to put him on a diet or tell him ‘no’ to foods because he throws ‘vicious tantrums’ (uh- heeeellllooooo: welcome to parenthood! tantrums are healthy for kids! it allows them to express their frustrations and (hopefully through parental guidance) learn to express themselves in a socially acceptable way…but back to *these* parents…)

forget most of the article…let’s focus on a statement from the dad:

“His appetite is so good that for a meal he can eat three big bowls of rice, even larger than I and his mother,” his father Lu Yuncheng, who struggles to pick him up…

let me explain something about chinese parents – food – and their children: the chubbier they can get their kids – the better. and preferably as soon as possible. to many asians – there is a direct correlation between weight gain and how well the parents (specifically the mother) is caring for the baby. skinny baby? terrible mom. chubby baby? excellent mom.

this is just one of those funny cultural differences…don’t believe me? okay…my mom (who is 100% old-school taiwanese) recently saw our (then 5 month old) chunky, breast-fed son and said ‘you do good job…not like your first one…she was too skinny – you starved her – that’s why she was so weak and didn’t crawl for a long time…’ *hahaha* (okay – so i really didn’t introduce foods until late with her but she’s now 5 and still has an incredible metabolism)..she’s also has been asking me when i’m going to start feeding my son table foods (‘real food’…like ground up meats and veggies with rice) now that he’s 6 months and cutting his 3rd or 4th tooth…her favorite thing to say when she calls and hear him crying is “he says ‘give me something to eat! i have teeth and want to use them!” *hahaha* she even fed my twin girls corn on the cob at 9 or 10 months…and those girls *still* love eating corn off the cob at nearly 3 yrs old…oh…and her philosophy in calming a cranky child? feed em. teething? feed em. bored? feed em. no waiting on meals or snack times when Ama (grandma) is in town!

this attitude with food and weight isn’t reserved for children only. it is very common for chinese to greet each other and mention something about the other’s weight “oh – you’re looking skinny“…”oh – you gained weight…”…it’s a way to show concern for one another…my mom and her friends have never shied away from using terms like “skinny”, “fat” or “chubby” to describe one another (or themselves…like my mom who recently laughed about her weight gain after she began some medication and called herself ‘chubby’ *haha* what a contrast to how sensitive our culture can be towards weight gain). it’s just not generally an offensive subject for that culture…

so i totally understand the sense of pride this father has when he says his boy’s appetite is ‘so good’…but come on! just say no! the line should have been drawn a long time ago on this one. fortunately the parents took him to a specialist who stated there ‘may be a hormonal disorder’…but still! preexisting condition or not – some conditions are exacerbated by our habits – no! no! no! i mean…how will these parents respond when their son wants to use their car? their credit card? their house as party central in a few years? assuming this little man does have a hormonal disorder…it still doesn’t negate the fact that these parents could benefit from administering a little dose of ‘no’ (consistent no’s!) and allowing the occasional ‘vicious tantrums’…how’s that for sticking my nose in someone else’s business? *hahaha*

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Responses

  1. Thank you for this post!
    When my ex-husband came to the US from Vietnam he weighed 129 lbs and was 5’9″. I was envious, that’s for sure as I had had weight issues my whole life. However, his number one goal as a new resident of the land of plenty was to get ‘fat.’ I was appalled with his thinking but could do nothing to convince him that gaining weight could make him sluggish and unhealthy. He did gain weight, got up to 175 at one point. Over the years he also learned how important maintaining a healthy weight is and has since spent the past 25 years trying to keep those fat pounds off, not always successfully.
    Also, we have 2 children, one was on the high end of the weight/height scale, the other was on the bottom of the scale. The smaller boy got endless comments from my husband’s family like “you’d better eat more food! you are too skinny!” The other one got many cheek pinches and “nice, big boy.” Interesting culture difference for sure!

    • yeah – i was “chicken” or “bird” legs when i was younger and my mom always fed me waaaay too much so i completely understand your son’s experience. i’d love to research this a little more at some point to see if there is a reason for this obsession – i’m willing to bet it has something to do with a sign of wealth and status.

      thank you for validating this post!


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