Mom asks for parenting advice after daughter calls friend 'fat'

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As a mom, Brittany Cole says she tries to be thoughtful and intentional about what she imparts to and teaches her children.

But a recent experience made her pause and turn to TikTok to ask for parenting advice.

Cole told "Good Morning America" her 4-year-old daughter Norah started at a new school and after she came home, opened up to her mom about a new friend she had made.

"She started to describe her to me and that's when she said, 'She's the fat girl with pink glasses.' And then that's when I was like, 'Oh, gosh, how do I respond to this?'" Cole recalled.

The 31-year-old also shared the exchange in a TikTok post and asked other parents what they would advise her to do in her situation.

PHOTO: Brittany Cole shared a TikTok video asking for parenting advice after her 4-year-old daughter described a friend as “fat.” (Courtesy of Brittany Cole)
PHOTO: Brittany Cole shared a TikTok video asking for parenting advice after her 4-year-old daughter described a friend as “fat.” (Courtesy of Brittany Cole)

"I don't know what to do. Do I ruin my daughter's view of the world by teaching her that the word fat is an insult and that she shouldn't say that to other kids? Do I let it go and run the risk of her insulting another kid and coming off as a bully even unintentionally?" Cole asked in part.

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Some in the comments suggested Cole help her daughter describe other people in different ways aside from their physical appearance, while others recommended teaching kids how words can be interpreted in multiple ways.

"Encourage her to find other ways to describe people. Hair color, tall/short, long hair/short hair, etc," wrote one commenter.

"I think it's important to have a conversation about how words have weight to them and starting a conversation about impact over intent," another wrote.

Cole, who lives in Shawnee, Kansas, with her husband Logan, daughter Norah and son Everett, said she doesn't want her daughter to grow up thinking "fat" is a bad word or an insult and said Norah understands the term simply as a physical characteristic.

PHOTO: Brittany Cole is a mom of two – a 4-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son. (Courtesy of Brittany Cole)
PHOTO: Brittany Cole is a mom of two – a 4-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son. (Courtesy of Brittany Cole)

"She's learned the word and it's just kind of not positive or negative to her. It's a descriptor," Cole explained. "But I know that the world sees it a different way."

Parenting expert and "Enough As She Is" author Rachel Simmons told "GMA" she recommends parents acknowledge to children that there's nuance and different connotations to certain words.

"I think it's important for the parent to educate the child, not just according to her own values as a parent, but also with an understanding of what the world outside the home thinks and does," Simmons said.

Simmons also said parents should start conversations about body image and weight sooner rather than later.

"A 4-year-old can totally get it," said Simmons. "It's really important for parents to start teaching their kids about the ways in which society can diminish some people as early as possible."

Cole said she hasn't completely figured out what she will tell Norah about using the word "fat" in everyday conversation but said she does plan on explaining that it's a natural characteristic for some bodies, and if Norah asks about it, that there is more than one connotation behind the word.

PHOTO: Brittany Cole told “Good Morning America” she wants her daughter not to view the word “fat” as a negative word and to recognize that “everybody comes in different sizes.” (Courtesy of Brittany Cole)
PHOTO: Brittany Cole told “Good Morning America” she wants her daughter not to view the word “fat” as a negative word and to recognize that “everybody comes in different sizes.” (Courtesy of Brittany Cole)

"If she was old enough where she understood someone was using that as an insult and trying to hurt her feelings, I would explain, 'Well, some people, they see that as not very beautiful. For some reason, they think that that is an insult. It's not,'" she added.

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The mom of two said she also hopes her post can inspire parents to "be more thoughtful."

"I would love it if that word became less taboo," Cole said. "If it can become as innocuous as referring to someone's eye color, that'd be amazing."

Mom asks for parenting advice after daughter calls friend 'fat' originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com