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Carolyn Hax: Parents want ‘creative way’ to urge daughter to lose weight

(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)

Dear Carolyn: Our daughter, 30, is good at her consulting work, intelligent and happy in a relationship. She suffered an accident that affected her state of mind many months ago but fully recovered.

We’ve noticed, however, on the past few visits that she has gained a lot of weight. She snacks a lot and also drinks rather heavily, though her body tolerates the alcohol. We’re concerned, because these things can affect her health, her budget (buying larger clothes), her relationship, her looks and self-esteem, etc. We’re fairly sure she would prefer not to be this size, but she doesn’t address it — quite the opposite.

We aren’t sure whether she realizes how much larger she has become. She is very sensitive, sometimes perceiving innocuous general comments as criticism. Is there a creative way to encourage her to address her weight for her own well-being without upsetting her? Or should we just keep our mouths shut?

— Wondering About Weight

Wondering About Weight: Leave! The weight! Alone!

For frappés’ sake. She has doctors, waistbands and eyes.

If the direct way sounds awful, then the “creative way” will just be awful with beads and feathers.

She has already alerted you to back off, too. That’s why you are able to report how sensitive she is and how UN. INTERESTED. she is in discussing her body with you.

Between your lines are also signs that she is not “fully recovered.” Indications of trauma, maybe, in her self-soothing behaviors? You name it, so I think you know it.

So how about shifting your concern from how fat she got to the possibility of unresolved emotional injuries? To what she might need, and want, from her parents. Compassion, maybe? Patience, priorities, love? Please call the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s Helpline (nami.org, 800-950-6264), describe your daughter’s accident and her behaviors since, and ask about trauma — because what people often need from us is not what meets the eye.

Dear Carolyn: Our daughter and her husband are in their late 30s, married five years. Years ago, they told a mutual friend (who then told us) of their hope to have children. They said they considered the quality of the local schools when choosing a place to live. They are great aunts/uncles and would probably be great parents.

We’ve never had a direct conversation with her about their plans for having children. We would fully accept any response we receive: no; only if it is meant to be without medical intervention; or yes, we’ve just not been blessed yet.

The clock is ticking. We are willing to offer financial assistance for fertility treatment if that is an issue. Should we mention this — once only — and if yes, how?

— Should We Ask?

Should We Ask?: A theme day for the books.

No, do not bring up even once the subject they have batted 1.000 at not bringing up with you, and no, do not offer even once to buy yourself a grandchild.

No, nooo.

If you have the money and suspect they don’t have the money, then just give them the money. Free and clear and to use as they wish. “Just because.”

That way, if they are in fact seeking expensive intervention, then your gift will ease their burden at a wrenching time with no strings or meddlesome pressure.

And if they aren’t seeking treatment, then they will have a few more options in life for a sum you were ready to spare.

Plus you’ll have the gratification of knowing you gave because you love them and could afford it, not because you wanted something for yourself. Happy trails.

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