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This season's The Biggest Loser Couples challenge isn't a crew of overweight husbands and wives as the title may suggest. Instead, although there are friends and siblings, seven of the 11 teams are a parent and child. Let’s face it, obesity has genetic components, and being raised by parent who overeats can make a child more likely to, too. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, kids with an obese parent have a 50 percent chance of becoming obese themselves. I’ve noticed a common thread among these pairs; the parents carry a lot of guilt about their children’s physical state. To me, guilt is an emotion that’s magnified 10-fold by parenthood. We like to blame ourselves for our children’s flaws, their tears, and pretty much every incident that could potentially send them to therapy later in life.
The burden each parent carries is so heavy, that a lot of viewers -- like me -- feel it. A few examples:
Watching Ana, the mother on the Orange Team, get booted the first week was heart wrenching. What made it so powerful was seeing her daughter, Irene lobby for her mom to stay with the same enthusiasm her mother did for her. See, these children don’t blame their parents for their obesity; they blame themselves, which as a parent, is even more crushing.
Last week, Dan "allegedly" threw the competition because he missed his daughter so much. And decided to battle his obesity back home, without the help of the dynamo Biggest Loser trainers. He said "I've got a nine-year-old daughter who needs me. My daughter told me she wants me to get healthier because she doesn't want me to go away... If I couldn't find the motivation to do this for myself or for my brother, guarantee you, I have all the motivation I need in just that one statement from her... I can't fail. I just cant."
And last night Don, who started the week with a huge deficit, received a letter from his estranged son. Though the note was short, the encouragement was enormous; Don's son disowned himself because he couldn't watch Don die of obesity. Talk about guilt. Um, tissue, please!
Do you ever feel "parent guilt"? Chime in below!