Annie’s Mailbox: Relatives keep mocking young cousins about their weight
June 25, 2010
Dear Annie: My widowed uncle has two sons, ages 11 and 13. My uncle is as skinny as a rail, but the boys are quite fat.
They eat healthy food — my uncle is a great cook — but their portions are large, and their father makes no effort to control how much goes into their mouths.
When we were with the extended family over the holidays, there were nonstop comments about the boys' weight, none of which was constructive and all of which included ridicule.
Yet, these same relatives filled the boys' Christmas stockings with chocolate and candy and fed them a huge meal with all the fat-laden trimmings, plus desserts. The boys were encouraged to serve themselves as much as they wanted.
Later, when they grabbed a snack, they were asked, "You're eating again?"
Not once did anyone say "no candy before lunch," yet I heard plenty of comments like "you're well-marbled." This really bothered me, as I'm sure it affects the boys' self-esteem.
It happened again when we were together for Mother's Day. I don't feel it is my place to comment on how the boys are raised, but I can't handle another family event like this.
I feel terrible for those kids. I love my family, Annie, but they are clueless and unsympathetic.
— Don't Make Fun of Fat Children
Dear Don't: It's possible some of the weight will drop off as the boys go through puberty and gain some height, as well as an interest in looking good.
But in the meantime, please be their advocate. Talk to the family members who are the worst behaved. Say you are certain they don't intend to harm these children by mocking them, but their comments are hurtful and undoubtedly contribute to the boys' overeating.
Ask those responsible for the food to present more healthful alternatives — for everyone's sake. Offer to bring dessert to the next gathering. Stand up for those kids as often as you can.
Dear Annie: I am a 21-year-old female and am depressed.
I recently started seeing a therapist and have come to the realization that the majority of this depression is due to the emotionally abusive relationship I have with my parents.
The therapist suggested I move out of their home, but I'm scared I won't be able to support myself.
Is it possible to stay in the house for another eight months to complete school and ensure that my tuition is paid?
— Stuck in Watertown, N.Y.
Dear Stuck: Your therapist gave you good advice, but it is a suggestion, not an order. If you need to stay with Mom and Dad in order to finish your education, it's OK, although it will not be easy.
Ask your therapist to help you work on ways to cope while focusing on your future. Find a job, start saving your money, and scout around for roommates and rentals.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Help," whose husband doesn't close any cabinet doors.
My mother left her cabinet door open and stood up quickly, hitting her head smack into the corner. Nothing happened right away, but a month later, she bent over to pick up a book and felt nauseated and got a severe headache.
Thankfully, my father was home and took her to the hospital.
The neurosurgeon said this blunt trauma to her head caused a cerebral hemorrhage that left her left side temporarily paralyzed. If she had been alone, it could have been fatal.
Her rehab took more than a year. Thankfully, Mom has made a complete recovery, but should she bump her head in the same spot, she is at risk of dying.
I hope this helps someone else understand the seriousness of not closing cabinet doors.
— Laurie B.
Dear Laurie: And for those who believe it can't happen to them, please consider the other people who live in your home, not to mention guests who know lawyers.