Blogger Sarah Kopplekam’s post “How to talk to your daughter about her body” went viral last month, landing her a spot on the Huffington Post where 146,249 people have “liked” it and 35,292 people have shared it.

What Sarah said isn’t revolutionary to those of us who work with eating disorders. Unfortunately, wise counsel like this often only reaches parents too late–after years of negative modeling and messages have already done their damage. And her wisdom applies to sons as well as daughters.

My favorite suggestion: Don’t dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your kids, or about your new diet.

A dear friend’s daughter recently moved to Los Angeles to attend graduate school. We hung out last week, laughed about how “crazy” her mom and I were when she was young and the impact our relationship with each other and our bodies had on her. “I never heard my mom say anything negative about her body. I asked her about it a few years ago. She raised her eyebrow like she does when she wants to make a point and told me that she was very intentional about that.”

Katie internalized a healthy sense of her body by watching us love and enjoy being in our woman bodies, enjoy good food, move because it felt good and not be afraid of getting dirty or talking about vaginas and penises! Needless to say, I was absolutely delighted by this conversation. I can’t imagine a better compliment than to hear that my example, even more than my words, impacted the life of another person.

The greatest gift a mom can give her child is her own positive relationship with her body.

The greatest gift one woman can give another woman is to fully embrace our own bodies and lovingly care for ourselves through the many changes and challenges of the female life cycle.

Passing it forward to Natalie

I met Kristen Fenton at the beginning of her career in social work. She participated in a self-care mentoring group I lead for ministry and mental health professionals.  I passed onto them the understanding and skills that have helped me find a new way of being in my body and life.  Years later, Kristen passes it forward through helping others heal from disordered eating and body image in her private practice in the Chicago area.

Last spring Kristen visited Los Angeles and I had the delight of meeting her engaging and beautiful daughter Natalie.  In writing to thank me for the time I spent sharing my life with her, she wrote “I am forever changed because of it. And my sweet Natalie now gets to live her life with a mama who is not enslaved to food or a poor body image.”

Thanks be to God!

Maybe you don’t “love and enjoy” your body. Begin with a small step: notice what is right with your body: your eyes that see, your ears that hear, your ability to walk. Practice noticing what is right with your body, not what is wrong.

And, if you need to talk about what is not right, the things you hate, wish you could change, please don’t do that with your daughter or son. Kids have more than enough negative and confusing messages about body image coming from media and peers. They don’t need you to add to that baggage.

Lots of resources are available. No matter what age your kids are, now is moment to begin to change your relationship with your body into a more loving, compassionate, and even celebratory one. It isn’t easy, but it is possible.

If you’d like some support, I’ve been there and done that and would love to share my experience, strength and hope with you.