Mom doesn’t get to weigh in on weight

Reader's weight gain leads to hurtful feelings from mother. Mom should eat those words, Carolyn Hax advises.



April 14, 2020 - 9:47 AM

Dear Carolyn: I am 45, I have two children, a great husband and a successful business. I am not thin, I could lose 15 to 20 pounds. I’m different from the trail runner I was 15 years ago, but I am happier. I am more confident; I have stronger and better friends. I spend better time with my friends and my relatives.

And yet . . . and yet, the look of disgust from my mother cannot be hidden. Her comments about everyone’s weight and size are hurtful. She is a strong, smart, caring woman, but her constant focus on size, food and diet is awful. I hate that this puts distance between us.

I have friends who are much heavier than I am — heck, they are all sizes! — and I love them.

And yet . . . and yet, when my mom judges my choices, it crushes me.

Note to parents with kids who don’t look like you expect: Drop it. Drop it fast, quick, forget it. They know. They know they are loved less because they don’t fit the size you think is better for them. Your kids know you don’t like them, and it’s the saddest feeling ever.

If your kid has a healthy life, then let it be. Let it be big, fun, lovable. Enjoy meals, enjoy going for ice cream. You have great kids, love them as they are. — It Crushes Me

It Crushes Me: Yesssss.

I’m sorry you’re on the receiving end of such relationship-killing disapproval. Small-mindedness, really. She’s welcome to think what she likes, but when she can’t find room in her mind and heart for any other thoughts, then that’s on her.

One quibble. You say, “If your kid has a healthy life, let it be.” That props the door open for parents of adult kids who aren’t making healthy choices to ride them for it, and that’s not okay, either.

Adults have limited say over other adults as it is, and in a lot of ways, parents have even less over adult children, because the relationship is so complicated. The need for a grown child to be seen as an adult by his or her parents in most cases is more pressing than the need for the parent to speak up — as I’ve said before, especially when the issue is weight, where there is never a shortage of other messengers.

If there’s an issue to the point of self-destruction (I’m way off your point now, obviously, since you’re doing great), then the imperative shifts a bit, but still the opening is only a crack because this other person’s life is not yours to live.

Re: Weight and appearance: I’d like to say that it’s equally terrible for an adult daughter to shame her mother over weight and appearance. I suppose this could also be a son/father or son/mother issue, but my female friend’s thin thin thin daughter is often on her case about her weight and clothing. It’s so hurtful and mean and accomplishes nothing. — Anonymous

Anonymous: The configurations don’t matter so much as the nature of the transaction: When someone comments so relentlessly on the surface like this, it negates the person beneath.