Ask Amy: Grown sons are still growing — out, not up

September 7, 2011

DEAR AMY: I have two college-educated sons who are roommates in a nearby city. They are in their 20s and have good jobs. Both were very athletic in school and enjoyed outside activity.

In the past year or so, they have both put on a considerable amount of weight (about 25-35 pounds on top of the 25-35 pounds they gained in college). They both have plus-size girlfriends.

At our house we cook nutritious meals, but they eat huge portions and they often munch before and after the meal with high-fat foods they brought with them. They are very inactive and spend many hours watching various media. They cook delicious, gourmet and extremely fattening food for themselves.

We can’t seem to talk them into taking a walk or hike with us, the way we all did when they were younger. My husband and I eat carefully and are healthy. We are worried about them.

One of my sons talked to me about how unhappy he is about his weight gain. He asked my advice, and I gave him a few very practical suggestions. Later he said I hurt his feelings because he felt I was agreeing that they were “fat.”

I agree there is too much focus on body image in our society, but my husband and I both have long family histories of hypertension, heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes. I think my sons are headed for some serious health issues at an early age if they don’t change their ways soon.

I hesitate giving any further advice. Do you have any suggestions? -- Concerned Mother in Oregon

DEAR CONCERNED: It’s a lot of fun when a family member corners you into agreeing with his self-assessment -- and then punishes you when you do.

You have a responsibility to educate them about their alarming family history.

You and your husband don’t have to tell your sons they’re fat. They know they’re fat. They also know what to do about it.

Sit down with them. You don’t need to make any reference at all to their weight. You simply say, “Guys, here it is. Hypertension, heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes. This is our health history. Please get checked out by your doctors and do what you can to avoid our family legacy.”

DEAR AMY: I am 64 years old. I love my job. I was just promoted and received a nice raise.

I have a co-worker who constantly wants to visit with me. My belief is that I was hired to do my job and not to visit. A lot of work goes across my desk, and my manager actually told me I keep the department running. I do not gossip or waste time at work.

This individual walks in and out of my office all the time wanting to chat. Recently she asked me why I was working, and I told her that when I’m at work, I work.

I don’t want to go to my manager about this (this person is a friend of our boss), but is there anything else I can do? -- Office Bound

DEAR BOUND: Did you say you have an actual office -- with a door?

If so, shut it, please. When your co-worker barges in, say, “I’m sorry, but I’m swamped. I really can’t visit during work hours. Would you mind closing the door behind you?” This is not an unkind or unusual idea.

Unless you are willing to make a declarative statement, the dynamic won’t change.

DEAR AMY: We have received a wedding invitation from a couple in their mid-30s. At the bottom of the invitation it says, “Kindly no boxed gifts.”

This seems a bit crass. Are they asking for cash only? We have not attended a wedding in years, and if this is kosher, are we behind the times? -- Reader in Alaska

DEAR READER: Unless the couple is registered somewhere and only want gifts that can be shipped to their home (not brought in boxes to the reception), then I’d say they definitely want a pony. Or livestock of some kind.

I’d go with that.

You can assume, however, that they are asking for cash.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2011 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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