Fussy mothers and fuzzy boundaries-relationships in families with overweight children
© 2009 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Aim The aim was to highlight some family relationships which enhance or hinder coping with child weight management, rather than the usual focus on the dietary and physical activity aspects of child weight management. Methods Parents with concerns about their children's weight volunteered to be interviewed. The interviews were semi-structured and covered the life histories of the focal child and any other relatives that interviewees deemed relevant. Standardised body shapes and photographs were used to illustrate descriptions. Analyses were thematic and iterative and used a Grounded Theory approach. Results Parents of 40 overweight children (48 parents in total) from the UK, took part in face-to-face interviews, mostly in their own homes. Parents reported their children's healthy dietary and physical activity behaviours, and their attempts to maintain these into adolescence. (Parents also recalled the social consequences of being in contact with teachers, health care professionals and strangers; Edmunds, 2005; 2008.) Pertinent here were the descriptions mothers gave of behaviours revealing their over-protectiveness in response to their child's lack of self-confidence, or other morbidity. They also reported the positive and negative influences of fathers and grandmothers. Two case studies are presented that illustrate some of the complexities of family relationships and how these were overcome. Conclusion Many child weight interventionists are concerned with diet and physical activity and may not appreciate how family relationships are affected by the presence of an overweight child. Documenting some of these relationships and their impact, may improve the effectiveness, particularly of treatment or secondary prevention interventions within the family setting.