Carolyn: I am a 30-year-old woman with a BMI of 24.9, the top of the healthy range. I believe I am attractive and healthy, and I am consistently told by friends, boyfriends and other family members that I am beautiful. I wouldnt mind losing a couple of pounds, like most other women in this country, but I like myself the way I am.
My parents believe I am too heavy and have remarked about my weight since I was in college. I dont think they realize their focus on my weight hurts. It really, really hurts. It makes me feel that all they see are the imperfections they perceive, more than even seeing me as a human being.
I earned my doctorate a few years ago and getting through a doctoral program is no walk in the park. I was no heavier than I am now, and when I walked in the door of my parents house, my mother would immediately make some comment about my weight, clothing, hair or other aspect of my physical appearance before she even asked me about school. I have asked her to stop, tried to explain how this makes me feel, but the comments keep coming.
Currently, I am dating. My mother has implied that the guys who have not continued seeing me probably had a hard time getting past my weight. Gee, thanks.
On one recent visit, my mother said they noticed I ate a lot over Christmas. Wow. I was recovering from a stomach flu then and I actually did not eat a lot. She also offered to pay for a Weight Watchers membership as a birthday present.
I am at a loss about how to handle this. Please help! While I think my parents have good intentions, I honestly feel like their fixation on my weight is harming our relationship.
Youre a devoted and loving daughter, but a large percentage of the people reading this are wondering why you didnt tell your parents where to stick their concern a decade ago.
Your parents havent just hurt your feelings; theyve abused the power of their criticism to the extent that you dont see their deep reach into your business as the violation it really is.
First things first, though: telling them where they can stick their concern.
State to them, by letter if needed, that you have doctors to guide you on your weight and dont need Mom and Dad to comment, issue warnings, throw money at or worry about your weight. NO extra explanations or apologies just the fact. Theyre out.
Then say that, because your past requests for them to drop this issue have been ignored, if they do comment on your weight, then you will put an immediate end to that visit or phone conversation. Then do it.
Ask your doctor for names of good therapists. To defend yourself effectively, you need to know where your parents end and your self begins.
Its possible to sharpen them without therapy, sure if you can see your parents objectively as outliers and wrong. It doesnt sound like youre there yet.
A good therapist will help you see where the boundaries go, how to erect and enforce them, and why your parents never taught you this themselves something healthy parents do from the very day youre born.
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