Posted: Friday, August 24, 2012 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: Our 21-year-old daughter has had weight issues for years. “Barbara” weighs 80 pounds more than she should.
I cannot remember a time when Barbara’s weight wasn’t a big deal to my husband. His mother also puts in her two cents with regular comments to Barbara concerning her diet. So do other family members. I find their obsession with her weight nauseating. I know they are concerned about Barbara’s health, but I believe they are expressing it the wrong way.
My daughter is beautiful and creative and has a huge heart. I offer healthy food choices in the house and make balanced meals when she is home. She has seen a doctor and has information on proper nutrition. We have offered to pay for gym memberships and diet programs, which she has declined. We bought her a bicycle, which she rides, and I have invited her to go on walks with me. She always starts with a real effort and then stops.
I believe her family should accept her as she is. I have become the buffer, trying to be encouraging and positive while filtering out the harshness of others. I have told my husband that Barbara must make lifestyle changes herself, and that his comments and pressure tactics have a negative effect. But he can’t help himself. He is frustrated that he cannot control his daughter’s size and that I won’t go along with his approach. It is causing stress in our marriage. Please help. — In the Middle
Dear Middle: You should remove yourself from the equation altogether. Barbara is an adult, and not only are her choices her own, but so are the consequences. Instead of protecting her, advise her on how to handle her relatives’ negative comments, and then let her do it. Tell your husband you will no longer be involved in his issues with Barbara, and when he brings up her weight, simply reply, “Yes, dear,” and then ignore him.
Dear Annie: I received permanent custody of my cousin’s 14-month-old son because of his mother’s neglect. The boy is now 4.
He has called me “Mommy” from the beginning. I refer to his bio mom by her first name. However, when we are at family gatherings, she insists on calling herself “Mommy.” She gets in his face and says, “Who am I? What’s my name?” And then he looks at me, totally confused.
My cousin and her family are struggling with the fact that I am the only mommy he knows. I will tell him the truth when I feel he is mature enough. But shouldn’t they have more respect for me and not confuse him? — Mommy that Matters
Dear Mommy: Whether or not they respect you, they should respect the child and not do things that will confuse and disturb him. Still, you cannot control what these relatives do, so we recommend you inform your son about his origins in an appropriate manner as soon as possible. He needs to understand that this woman is his biological mother, but she was unable to take care of him and you wanted him very much, and you both love him deeply. Talk to your pediatrician about the best way to handle this, and perhaps get a referral to a family therapist.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Crying in Ohio,” whose husband of 46 years told her she is terribly obese.
My father suffered from dementia in his later years. We were all hurt and confused by the mean-spirited comments he made, but after his diagnosis, we realized those remarks were the first sign of the disease.
If this behavior is out of the norm, she should take her husband to a doctor and find out whether there is a medical cause. There may be medication to help, and she won’t waste precious years being angry with him for something he can’t control. — Omaha
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 8.24.12