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 “Children and Your Surgery:
What About Me?


Barbara Thompson

Being of normal weight is something that you might have longed for your whole life.  As you reached out for the promise offered by the many diets you have been on, the reality of thinness was always just out of your reach.  You were always plagued by the extra pounds that made you suffer from ill health, limitations on your activity or created life threatening conditions.  Even if you did not experience any of these problems, you knew that this disease of obesity would eventually cause you to have a shorter life. When you were introduced to the idea of weight loss surgery, the possibilities seemed to be the answer to a desperate lifelong prayer.

You know that you are at a much higher risk of developing significant problems when you stay morbidly obese, but to your children, you are their Mom or Dad and you are in the only body that they have ever known. Even if other children tease them about your size, and even if they have missed your company in physical activities, they may still not be ready to accept the changes in you that will come as a result of your surgery.

You know the positive effects that this surgery has on you but what effect does this surgery have on your children who may not have the maturity to appreciate the necessity of what you are going through?

I remember when I was a child; my father had a heart attack.  Following his recovery, he lost quite a bit of weight.  I remember snuggling next to him on the couch after his weight loss and I missed the softness and comfort of his former big belly. I did not like that he had shrunk and changed.  I wanted my big, ole Daddy back. As a child, I had trouble assimilating the fact that he was healthier now that he had lost weight.  I had a child’s reaction, “What about me?” “Why did things have to change?”

Your children may be going through a similar reaction. They have a child’s love for a parent.  They love you just the way you are because the way you are is what Mommy or Daddy is in their young minds. “Why do you have to change things?”  Even little changes can shake a child’s sense of security.  And weight loss surgery involves tremendous change, not only for you, but for those around you.      

You may find that your children are frightened for you as you are approaching your surgery and may not appreciate why you would do this. “What if you die? What will become of me?”

Children may also suffer from information overload.  They may be sick of hearing you obsess about this surgery. After all, it is taking the attention away from them. I know there are many of you who are reading this and have seen the rolling of the eyes every time you mention something about your surgery. They wonder why you can’t talk about anything else. Like them!  

After your surgery, the tough part starts for you.  You are going through depression as the after effects of anesthesia wears off.  You are wondering why you did this to your body.  And your children are looking at your surgery as being over.  You survived.  It’s time to move on. They think that for them it is over.  But for you, the journey is just beginning.

The weeks and months to follow may put children through something that they hadn’t expected.  You are changing, both physically and emotionally. They wonder what that means for them. You look different.  You act different.  In fact, you are different.  It’s a freeing, liberating time for you, but your children may just want their ole Mom or Dad back.  They were comfortable with that person and may have a hard time adjusting to this new person.  You know that you are still you but in their minds, you are someone different.

Look for signs that your children may be feeling insecure.  They have lost their parent and someone thinner, more active, more vibrant is here.  This may be a positive for you, but for them, it may be frightening. Help them to understand what a wonderful opportunity you have to live a better, fuller life and that chances are you will be around for them a lot longer. 

Take time to show them lots of love.  Reassure them that even though you are changing in so many ways, what is not changing is your love for them.  And consider seeking family counseling if need be.


Copyright © 2000-2013 Barbara Thompson All Rights Reserved