Why a Mom’s Body Image Matters to Her Sons

Mom's Body Image

Earlier this year, I was challenged to write my health goals at this point in my life. I’ve set lots of health goals in the past, but most of them have been weight-related. A number. A size.

This time, I felt God leading me a different direction with my health goals. When I started running almost 16 months ago, my motivation was just to get to a certain number on the scale. But over the course of time, it became less about weight and more about health and strength.

The goals I wrote down were this:

Health Goals

Big J read these goals as he climbed up on to my lap that morning and asked wondered if “leaner” meant “skinnier.” I was kind of floored that the thought of “skinny” had popped into his mind. I don’t talk about weight much in front of them, and he’s a boy – why was he thinking about skinny? Isn’t it girls who think about that all the time?

I’m actually glad those words came out of his mouth. I had the chance to explain to him that being lean was more about getting rid of unhealthy fat and not about being thin. He seemed to get that, and he liked that my list also included getting stronger because boys think muscles are cool. Mom win.

Being a boy mom, I thought I had dodged the issue of my body image affecting the body image of my children. But that moment with Big J proved to me why my own body image is just as important to my sons as it would have been to my daughters.

Even though my own weight hadn’t been discussed with Big J, he had still heard the word skinny somewhere and associated it with a reason to workout and eat differently. I don’t like the word skinny. I don’t think it is a healthy word for anyone to use. Well sure, it feels nice to have someone say, “You look so skinny!” But skinny has nothing to do with healthy.

I’ve read many times that a boy learns a lot about the kind of woman he wants to date and marry from his mother. If the boys were to get used to the kind of mindset that goes along with “skinny,” I’m afraid of what their standards would be for a woman in their life.

I obviously believe what’s on the inside matters most for friendships, relationships, marriage, and so on. Appearance does not come before the heart, the faith, the soul. But since we are trying to raise our boys to live healthy, active lifestyles, I pray they will find a woman who also enjoys being healthy and active, not one focused on doing anything to be skinny.

It’s not just girls who look at their mom to shape their thoughts on beauty. While the boys are learning a lot about their own body image from The Hubby, they are forming an idea of a woman’s healthy body image from watching and listening to me – their mom.

I want what I say and do in regards to my health and body to drown out the messages the world sends about women and their bodies.

I’m aiming for healthy, strong, lean, and energetic, not just for my own good, but for these young men in my house who need to know “skinny” is not the most important thing.

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  1. Sarah Lopez says:

    This is so true but hard to accept. This is one of my biggest struggles. Reading this has opened my eyes and has made me aware that my 3 boys are not only looking at the way l live my live spiritually but physically as well. I don’t want my children to learn bad eating habits from me. Well, it is time to change the way My family eats at home and it begins with me! Thanks for the Encouragement

  2. I love this, Erin! I’m a newbie when it comes to exercise—just 5 weeks with CrossFit. I’ve relied on being ‘skinny’ for too long. And I’m learning EVERY DAY that I am NOT healthy. CrossFit has shown me how weak I am–and how strong I want to be. I want to be strong NOT SKINNY so I can serve God and my family for as long as I can.

    Yes, let’s show our kids what health is really about–using our bodies, our temples for Him.


    • Amen, sister. Strong bodies can do lots of work for the Lord! So proud of you jumping into CrossFit like you have! You’re a rockstar!

  3. Sarah Lopez says:

    Hi Erin
    My Name is Sarah. I have 3 boys. I came across your website through Pinterest. I am so excited! “Finally, someone who can relate and not only that a mom with 3 boys who’s foundation is based on Gods word.” Before reading your blog today, I was conscious of that fact that how I lived my life was important because I was setting an example for my boys. After reading your blog, I realized that my choices in the way I eat and my bad habits health wise can and will affect my children. I struggle in this area but after reading this I have a whole new perspective! I now realize that I have to change my eating habits to healthier ones as well as what I cook at home so that my boys won’t have to struggle with their weight or health in the future. Thank you for giving me a new perspective! God Bless

    • Sarah, I just love hearing from you! I’m really working on those eating habits right now as well! Thank you for your kind words and I’ll be praying for you in this journey towards healthier living!

  4. The Hubby says:

    Sweetheart, I love that you are a strong, lean, healthy, energetic (and beautiful) woman! And that you model that for our boys!

  5. Erin, thanks for your thoughts today! I found your post via Pinterest and agree with you whole-heartedly. I have both a son and a daughter, and I, too, thought body image would be most important for my daughter’s sake. But you have such good points about setting an example for our sons. As mothers, our body image could affect our sons’ views of women, their relationships with women, possibly with their spouses, and even with their own children. Our actions today as mothers affect our future grandchildren!
    Thanks again for your positive voice!

  6. This is a great post – it’s so important to be our best selves for our kids, boys and girls alike. And that means modelling healthy and happy and loving ourselves as much as we love them. I’m finding that being a mum is spurring me on to be the absolute best person I can be, health included, driven by the hope that will inspire them to pursue that too.

  7. Like all moms I’ve struggled with body image after baby. When my two year old heard me sigh while dressing one day and asked, “What mom? Your big gut?” I was faced with reality. Everything I say about myself is showing my little man what is and is not acceptable in a woman. Great post, thanks.

  8. Mariah Mullet says:

    Such encouraging things to hear, and a great reminder! As someone who has previously battled an eating disorder and spent 4 months in an intensive outpatient program, I know the danger of poor body image and language. I also know that many boys and men deal with these issues too, as half of my group was young men. And, as the mother of soon to be 3 boys that is a weighty thing to know. Thank you for the reminder that my actions and words are noticed by them!

  9. Thank you for writing this post. I am a mom of an almost 4 year old. It is important to me to model a healthy lifestyle to my son. He sees me workout. He will always say “Good job Mommy!” Every once in a while he will call me Workout Mommy. He likes to give nicknames. I want him to look past society norms of what is beautiful and look to the heart.

  10. Jill Bolling says:

    Love to see another boy mom teaching her children about being healthy in body and spirit. We like to do kiddie boot camp, go for runs, play and talk about God. I catch myself wanting to do better because I see the boys watching. They are so inquisitive. Look forward to reading more! ~Mommabear x5

  11. Hi! Would you ind if I share your blog with mmy
    twitter group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content.

    Please let me know. Many thanks

  12. I love this! I have an infant son and am focused on getting in shape and healthy so I can be my best physically for my family. I know what we say and how we act is definitely observed!

    • Hi Nicole! Thanks for your kind words! So awesome to hear you are wanting to set a healthy example from the beginning with your little guy!


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