The recently-released Weight Watchers “Kurbo” diet app for kids has received a lot of well-deserved criticism. The company’s responses–that the app is about promoting healthy choices, that it’s not a diet–have been terrific examples of diet culture’s current re-branding from prescribed restriction à la Jenny Craig to an illusion of abundance: you can eat as much as you want, as long as it’s “clean.” But anything that presents certain foods as “good” and others as “bad” is a diet.
Being a therapist in Colorado, I’ve heard more than a few comments from parents along the lines of, “I wish pot had never been legalized–now kids can get it so easily!” I understand the concern. Legalized marijuana has led to an increase in overall weed consumption in Colorado–among adults. It stands to reason that if parents are seeing more of their friends, neighbors, and loved ones enjoying legal pot, they’re going to worry about how easily their teenagers will be able to get their hands on it.
Someone asked about “relationship counseling” with their teen. I was struck by the phrasing because I tend to refer to it as “family therapy” when I work with parents and teens together, but I actually think relationship counseling is more accurate.
Sometimes in the mental health field, especially with teens, we dismiss certain behaviors as “attention seeking”–as if attention and connection aren’t deeply rooted human needs. We all need attention. We are meant to be social, to be seen by others, and to connect with others.