Dear Amy: I have a parenting question.
I have an adult son in his mid-20s. He has been with his girlfriend “Kris” since they met in college. My wife and I have welcomed Kris into our clan. We genuinely like her.
They live together and both have full-time jobs.
We assume that our son will ask Kris to marry him – possibly this Christmas. We have not discussed this with him.
The problem? My wife and I are both convinced that our son and Kris are not destined to make it, long term.
How do we know this? We both had brief first marriages.
We believe our son is going to ask us to be honest with him about his relationship, and we are not sure how to respond.
What do you think?
– Pondering Parents
Dear Parents: Your son might be asking earnestly, but I suggest that you respond extremely carefully. Start with this question: “What is it you’re looking for from us?”
Do not criticize him or Kris, or critique their relationship. Speak only to your own experiences. Would any forewarning have waved you off of your brief first marriages? Keep this in mind as you weigh your response.
Premarital counseling can bring forward many deeper issues. It’s a shame more couples don’t avail themselves of it.
Dear Amy: My daughter is 33 and is a kind, caring person. She has a good job and a devoted boyfriend who is living with her in a house that we helped her buy.
She was a normal weight until she gained about 30 pounds in college, after she joined AA to quit drinking.
During the pandemic she became depressed and put on another 20 pounds, and in the past 18 months (since her boyfriend moved in) she has gained at least 60 pounds. She quit her gym during COVID and hasn’t gone back.
She has done several extreme fad diets, including vegan and keto, and now has thrown herself into a carb-heavy diet and has a BMI of more than 35. She is 100 pounds over a healthy BMI of 25.
Her normal-sized boyfriend has also put on at least 10 pounds.
Six months ago, she saw a doctor who recommended bariatric surgery, which she refused.
She doesn’t see doctors, despite having good health insurance.
I’ve read in your column that I can’t speak to her about this since she is fully aware of it, will resent me, and only she can change it.
I am terrified that she will become so obese that she cannot find a new job or boyfriend – if either of those disappear.
She has some social anxiety but is quite adamant about her own judgment.
I suggested that she see an endocrinologist since she may have a metabolic disorder (aside from eating too much). She has yet to call that doctor.
How can I help her take the first step? I’m paralyzed with fear that she will die of morbid obesity.
– Desperate Mother
Dear Desperate: Your interest in your daughter’s body size, weight and BMI is obsessive, and I suggest that you get a handle on your own anxiety by talking this through with a therapist.
You state that your daughter will not see a doctor – and yet she did see a doctor, six months ago. This doctor recommended bariatric surgery, which she is declining. She has also done at least one other positive and honestly monumental thing to protect her health, which was to join AA and become sober.
How and why has your daughter’s BMI (body mass index) come up in conversation? You are either bringing up this topic, or she is sharing these details with you, perhaps testing your response. Don’t bite that hook.
If the 12-step AA model works for her, she could find a 12-step program like Overeaters Anonymous (OA.org) to join – but again, this should be her choice.
Stop. If hounding people helped them to lose weight, then I assure you we’d all be doing it.
Your obsession with your daughter’s weight is destined to damage her self-esteem, if it hasn’t done so already.
Dear Amy: “Disgusted Dad” described two of his three children as being at odds and demanding separate holiday celebrations.
I agree with you that giving in to this emotional blackmail is a slippery slope.
My own parents allowed this and then exhausted themselves trying to please everyone. I wish they hadn’t.
Dear Regretful: In addition to being exhausting, hosting separate celebrations does not provide any pathway for possible reconciliation.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)