Daughter’s weight gain concerns mom

  • By Carolyn Hax
  • Tuesday, September 9, 2014 7:59am
  • Life

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi Carolyn:

Our daughter is in her junior year of college. Like lots of kids, she gained the so-called Freshman 15, but she was a pretty skinny teenager and could afford the extra pounds. A couple years later, her weight gain has ballooned out of control. She doesn’t seem depressed, and she has an active social life and a steady boyfriend. It may be that she feels just fine with her weight, but she would be more attractive if she slimmed down a little, and it’s definitely way too early in life for her to lose control of herself in this way.

I promise I’m not some hypercritical mom who needs her child to be perfect — my concerns didn’t set in till she had added an estimated 40 pounds to her high school weight. I am, however, hyper-aware of the danger of SEEMING like I’m criticizing her, so I haven’t mentioned this to her directly yet (but have made an effort to serve only healthy food when she comes home).

What else can I do to help my daughter manage her as-yet-unacknowledged weight gain?

— Maryland

Nothing. It’s impossible to live in this country and culture without being aware of extra weight and what it costs a person, real or perceived. It’s also hard to imagine she doesn’t know what healthy food is, what smaller portions are or how a treadmill works.

Here’s what is hard to come by: Acceptance of who we are inside without the taint of judgments about our appearance. It would be the height of wonderful if you could just love and accept and support your daughter in whatever package she arrives in.

If the dramatic gains continue, then do act, but only on the possibility there’s an underlying health problem. In that case, though, talk to your family doctor first.

Re: Daughter’s Weight:

In addition to what Carolyn said, please reframe your concern: It’s not that she’d be more attractive if she lost 40 pounds; would she be happier? Concern yourself with her well-being, not her appearance.

— Anonymous

Right, thanks. Then take it a step further and ask: Would she be happier if I made her weight my business, or if I trusted her to handle it?

Hi Carolyn:

I’m a 29-year-old straight lady. Every time I go out with a guy, I wonder/hope/wish, “Is this the one?” And I find this creates so much pressure on me and on the guy. How can I lessen the pressure I place on myself to find a husband?

— 29

How good are you at changing your internal dialogue? Every time you wonder, “Is this the one?,” force yourself to say, “No — don’t ask that, ask this: Was this date better than staying home?” Yes means yes to another date, no means no and you saved yourself some angst. One date at a time.

The one qualifier is that your own company has to be something you enjoy. That’s your baseline by which you measure someone’s impact on your life, positive or negative, and what makes your judgment sound (or unsound, depending).

So, if you think any date beats staying home, then the path to lessening the pressure is by enriching the life you live on your own.

(c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group

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