Singer Carnie Wilson has been mercilessly criticized in the media for her weight – which has yo-yoed up and down since she famously underwent gastric bypass surgery in 1999. But these days, the Newlywed Game host and mom of two – Lola, 5 and Luciana, 11 months with musician Rob Bonfiglio – seems relaxed about the issue and primarily focused on raising daughters with positive body image. She spoke to Babble about the movie mom she’d love to be, her bedtime no-no, and why public tantrums are the parents’ fault.
What’s your parenting philosophy?
You can never give your child too much love and praise, and, at the same time, it’s important to build their self-esteem. There are people of all different shapes and sizes, and I try to teach Lola that people aren’t as sensitive as she is. She’s almost five, and that’s the age kids in school start to tease each other. It hurts her. I try to teach her that you can have thick skin, but still be sensitive.
What shocked you the most about parenting?
[That I need] to look at my own behavior, because how I act is what my kids see. And the lack of sleep is difficult.
How do you manage a public tantrum?
Lola doesn’t really have tantrums in public; we’re lucky. When we go into a store, she says, “Mommy, I want this,” and I tell her no, but she doesn’t get mad. You have to learn to barter with them; kids should know they can’t always get what they want, and the world doesn’t revolve around them. Sometimes – I don’t know if it’s me laying a guilt trip on her – but I’m honest. I say, “You have so many toys at home, and there are some kids who have no toys at all,” and she stops and thinks. I feel bad for parents who have to go through [public tantrums], but, honestly, it’s their fault for not taking care of it in the first place.
What’s off-limits in your house?
No hitting or pinching your sibling. Any physical stuff I’m a stickler about. Lola’s five, and Luci is a baby, so when she tries to pull her to kiss her or tease her, she doesn’t understand she could be hurting her. Also, no sugar within an hour of bedtime.
If you could be any TV or movie parent, who would it be?
Sally Field in Forrest Gump. I just thought that she was the most beautiful, wonderful, encouraging mother. She never let anything get in his way; he was unstoppable. Even when she was dying, she was positive.
As your girls get older, how are you going to talk to them about weight and body image?
I take it from a health angle. I tell them our bodies are sacred, and we have to take care of them. They’re fully aware I’m overweight. My daughter sees pictures of me when I was fifty pounds thinner, and I’ll say, “That’s Mommy!” She’s learning what that means, and that what you put in your body makes you bigger or smaller, and what it means if your body is too big. I never look at [weight] like someone is less of a person or a bad person. When the day comes that she sees people who are thinner, I’ll tell her she has beautiful eyes, hair, smile. She’s Lola, and we have to celebrate that she was a gift from God.
Who’s the good cop, you or your husband?
It switches. I’m stricter about getting into bed earlier, but my husband doesn’t get it. He’ll sit and watch TV or draw with her until 9:30, and I’ll say, “Okay, it’s time to go to bed!” Lola’s bedtime is usually between 8 and 8:30, and she doesn’t understand that when mommies don’t get that extra hour of sleep, they’re going to be tired the next day, which means they’re cranky, want sugar, and not focusing as well.
What’s your favorite meal that you make for your girls?
Balsamic chicken. I take chicken cutlets, put them in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then pour balsamic vinegar on top. Then I sprinkle dried spices like basil, onion and garlic powder. I cut the chicken into little chunks, and make a side of pasta. I like [Lola] to eat a lot of protein. She’s refusing to eat vegetables right now, which is hard, but she’s eating fruit, so we’re making progress.