Straight Talk Advice

Sep 19, 2007

Dad worries as daughter piles on pounds

Dear Straight Talk: My 19-year-old daughter, “Megan,” attends college a few hours away. The problem is she is 50 pounds overweight. She’s been overweight for several years, but never to this degree. I’m worried about her health, but no matter what I say, she shows no motivation to lose weight. On both sides of her lineage there are morbidly obese women and I fear she is heading down this road. I’m at a loss as to how to get through to her. — Megan’s dad (not overweight and a regular exerciser)


From Farren, 19: Motivation is the key to losing weight. Gym memberships, cute clothes, stripping the pantry of junk food: nothing will work unless a person is motivated in the first place. Approach your daughter again. Let her know you love her unconditionally and because of that, and the family’s medical history, you are worried about her. Then, set up a support system and a reward system. Sometimes motivation needs a nudge. Get her a gym membership, set some goals together, and reward met goals by buying her something she’s really been wanting.


From Johannes, 20: Just love and support your daughter. Nothing can be accomplished unless she is internally motivated. Perhaps the 3-day Landmark Forum (www.landmarkeducation.com) would give her the spark she needs. People close to me have had terrific results.


From Nicole, 17: I doubt there is anything you can say or do that will make Megan dramatically change her diet. Hopefully she will have a self realization and will want to change. Continuing to bring it up will probably just make her defensive and no progress will be made.


From Mary, 17: There is nothing you can do so sit on your hands. She is an adult and it’s up to her.


From Mariah, 15: Maybe Megan doesn’t see herself as overweight, and likes the way she is.


Dear Megan’s dad: Many overweight or obese people will look you straight in the eye and tell you they like the way they are. It is a lie they tell themselves. Obesity is a disease and I take a truthful, proactive stance on it. I disagree with many on the teen panel who say there is nothing you can do. Internal motivation is triggered in many ways and you, as Megan’s parent, are one of the biggest triggers she has — even as she is a legal adult living away from home. Several times my parents said things to me in my twenties that motivated me to alter my course. Did I want to hear those things? Of course not. They required work.


How you talk to your daughter is crucial. Pick your moments carefully. Don’t be overbearing, forceful, or lay blame. Be friendly and loving in a non-cloying way, while at the same time, be factual and truthful about the ramifications of being overweight. Stay in communication and keep finding those moments. Don’t give up. Your concern is a form of love.


Setting up a support/reward system is also a great idea, as is sending your daughter to a Landmark Forum. I, too, have heard nothing but terrific reports from participants of this personal growth workshop.

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