General Question

Trustinglife's avatar

How to deal with overweight family member?

Asked by Trustinglife (6584 points ) October 22nd, 2008 from iPhone

A friend of mine has a son whose wife recently gave birth. The daughter-in-law was overweight to begin with, and is now even heavier. My friend is quite concerned about her, especially since they plan on having another child soon. My friend has concerns about a second child being overweight, as well as her son having a roving eye. That wouldn’t be good for anyone!

My friend doesn’t want to bring it up with her daughter-in-law, and doesn’t know what to do. I suggested she ask the collective. Does anyone have a perspective on this that might help her deal with the situation or ease her mind. She’s really concerned about it. Thanks!

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47 Answers

cheebdragon's avatar

Tell your friend to stay out of it.

Nimis's avatar

Even if your friend has her daughter-in-law’s best interest (in the long run) in mind,
it’s not going to be received particularly well coming from the mother-in-law.

Best for your friend’s son to do something of his own accord.
Perhaps motivate both of them to go to the gym together?
That way it’s about both of them and not one pointing their finger at the other.

asmonet's avatar

This is the daughter-in-law’s and the son’s issue. It is not your friends or subsequently your business. Speaking as a girl who has dealt with weight issues being brought up by family members, despite their intentions it is not going to be received well.

I assume the girl has a functioning brain, she knows what she looks like and feels like and so does her husband if they are happy and within healthy limits there is no problem, if they are happy and not healthy, it’s their problem if they are sad and unhealthy again, THEIR problem.

If your friend is concerned with the children just be healthy and teach them healthy lessons when they are old enough without condemning their mother’s choices while you do it. Be supportive and set a positive example.

If your friend can’t shoosh and be the supportive role model she is to her son and new daughter and their family, the only option available to her ever is speaking to her son about a legit worry over her daughter-in-law’s health, I wouldn’t mention the children or the roving eye. Those both may send the message you think neither of them is good enough for the roles they have – husband or parent – because of their weight. Which is ridiculous.

Besides, she recently gave birth. Give her some time to return to her comfortable weight, some women lose it in a month, some women lose the weight in a few years. It’s not your friend’s body so she can’t really judge the time frame.

i sound kinda bitter… not really my intention

Nimis's avatar

While diet can affect weight and any offspring you may be carrying,
I don’t think the woman’s current weight will be passed along so much
as her genetic predisposition to be within a certain weight range?
Though (maybe not weight, but) I imagine her current health may affect her offspring in the long run?

Regardless though, this is not the time to be mentioning this.
Imagine carrying a human being in your womb for nine months,
then have it pulled out screaming in a bloody, pain-filled mess.
Your body would not be in the best shape either.

If after this ordeal, someone even passingly mentioned that I should get on a treadmill,
I would totally punch them in the dick (and not in a congrats on reaching 10K way either.)
Or whatever the female equivalent of that would be. I am an equal opportunity puncher.

asmonet's avatar

@Nimis: Kick/punch in the ovaries. Slap in the tit.

Those are my friend circle favorites.

we’re classy

laureth's avatar

Perhaps the friend’s son likes larger women. Men like this do exist.

basp's avatar

I also have a daughter in law who is overweight. As much as I want her to lose weight, I also know that she must make the choice to do so and it isn’t really any ofmy business. My son actually prefers heavy women (I’m not sure why, but he always dated chunky girls prior to marriage).
I do, however, try to encourage her when I can. When she starts a new diet, we discuss reciepies, when we got a wii game, she and I exercised together with it. Since it wouldn’t hurt me to lose a few of my matronly pounds, doing things together gives us each support and it doesn’t appear like I’m trying to force weight loss activities on her. Also, it has helped to bond us as mother/daughter in law.

Mr_M's avatar

If the son has a roving eye, it’s NOT the weight or fault of his wife. The son is no good. And it sounds like the mother-in-law has deluded herself into thinking it’s his wife’s weight at fault.

deaddolly's avatar

Speaking as someone who has had weight issues their entire life; the person is the one who has to decide to do something for herself. No one can ‘get’ her to do it. She has to be firmly committed to it. She may decide now or later in life. As for medical problems, it’s up to her doctor or OB to point those out to her, which I’m sure they have.
IN other words, stay out of it. Support her if she does decide to loose the weight. It is not easy and harder still to keep it off.
As for the ‘roving eye’...nothing will change that. Once an asshole, always an asshole. If she were of a normal weight, there still would be another reason to stray.

Snoopy's avatar

Unless the the daughter in law comes to your friend seeking advice or opinion the friend (and you?) need to stay out of it….

As a daughter in law and an adult, I can assure you that unsolicited advice from my mother in law is not only unwelcome it is rude.

Also, consider that the weight issues of the daughter in law may in no small part be due to stress from being married to a jerk.

Basp’s advice is great. Positive reinforcement and encouragement when solicited is fine. Noone w/ any “issue” (food, drugs, alcohol, infidelity) will make any changes to their life until they are ready.

poofandmook's avatar

I really don’t understand people who don’t understand why guys might like a chunky girl. It’s not like we’re freaks of nature with 1 eye and 3 nipples on our foreheads or anything. For Chrissakes, I’ve never heard anything so passive-aggressively prejudiced.

I say your friend needs to keep her nose in her own business and cut those damned apron strings.

deaddolly's avatar

@poof Exactly…there’s nothing wrong with a little junk in the trunk. Being healthy is the most important thing.

poofandmook's avatar

@dead: Exactly. I’m healthier than a good deal of my skinnier friends.

jca's avatar

i would stay out of it, and your friend should stay out of it. your friend would alienate them and he can’t save the world.

i have a friend who is probably over 400 lbs, has a teenager, a toddler, a newborn (and had pregnancy complications) and now she tells me her husband wants to have one more. it might kill her. i care about her but i’m not going to lecture her – just hope for the best.

deaddolly's avatar

@jca Not much you can do, as hard as it is. Her doctor should be the one laying it on the line for her. I would think she’d want to be around for her kids…

jca's avatar

dolly: you’re telling me. i’m like whatever. i think they’re crazy but of course i don’t say it.

deaddolly's avatar

@jca It’s such a touchy subject. I was only successful with weight loss when i really, really decided on my own that i wanted to lose weight. Then I did it on my own. i was skinny for a few years only..lol Then i realized it didn’t matter as long as i felt good about ME

basp's avatar

poof
You make a good point.

There was a time when I felt I had to make excuses for my DIL to justify her weight to friend/family. But when I saw the love blossom and grow between her and my son and realized what a perfect choice be made for a life partnter I changed my tune. Our children never stop teaching us life lessons.

poofandmook's avatar

@basp: I didn’t mean to sound so harsh, but that sort of thing is like the N-word to me, ya know?

asmonet's avatar

@poof: I’m really confused, what word offended you, or was it just the tone of the post?

poofandmook's avatar

@asmonet: It wasn’t a word that offended me… the whole idea was just as offensive to me as the N-word offends people.

asmonet's avatar

@poof: Thanks for the clarification. :)

Judi's avatar

When a person is fat they know it. This girl does not need anyone to tell her. She’s the one whose feet hurt when she hops out of bed in the morning, she’s the one who gets winded walking from the parking lot to the grocery store. The absolute worst thing Mother in law can do is bring it up to her. This only causes a deeper depression and desire to sink into yourself and hide yourself behind the fat. I’ve been there.
If mother in law wants to help, she will overlook the fat and appreciate the beautiful person inside. Communicate acceptance, not disgust, and genuinely celebrate the persons positive attributes. She can also model a healthy lifestyle. Prove that it’s never to late to get in shape. MIL should join a gym, do a Marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, http://www.teamintraining.org/tnt2008/1/ or at least participate in the heart walk. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3053039 Be a model without being judgmental. It is much more effective to inspire than it is to motivate by guilt.

asmonet's avatar

@Judi: I always look forward to your posts. :)

deaddolly's avatar

@Judi perfect! Lurve to you!

skfinkel's avatar

As so many others here, I would add that the best thing for your friend to do is make her own life, her own weight, her own marriage as good as it can be. She needs to live her own life, adore her grandchildren and when they are with her give them healthy food choices, and respect her daughter-in-law for the work she is doing.

Unless the daughter-in-law asks her for guidance, she needs to give none.

cyndyh's avatar

If the son is showing signs of having a roving eye, she might want to talk with him about that. As Mr M says, it sounds like the MIL is using the DILs weight as an excuse for her son’s crappy behavior.

Leave the DIL alone about her weight. Doesn’t she have enough to deal with right now without MIL being a jerk, too. Jeez, she just had a baby. Is she even getting a full night’s sleep yet? If the son has time to let his eye rove, then he isn’t doing his part in taking care of his baby. He needs to man up.

Judi's avatar

Cyndyh!
Say it sista!

jca's avatar

i say if the son has a roving eye, that’s between him and his wife.

poofandmook's avatar

and personally I think if MIL thinks her son is going to look elsewhere just because his wife has gained weight (assuming the son hasn’t exhibited this behavior and it’s just a guess on her part), I think MIL needs someone to grab her by the shoulders and give her a little shake.

cyndyh's avatar

@jca: If that was my son behaving that way, I’d say something to him. That’s messing with my family. That’d be my grandchild he’s neglecting, and I didn’t raise him that way. I wouldn’t harp on it, but I’d say something about it.

@poof: Either way we’re assuming, yes. Assuming he’s actually doing something that makes her think he’s roving, he needs to man up. Assuming she’s just thinking that DILs weight will cause his eye to rove, then yes. She needs a sturdy shaking. :^>

@Judi: Thank you, Sista. :^>

Snoopy's avatar

@jca & cyndyh I agree w/ you both. I think the mom should say something to her son and then be done w/ it….i.e. not ongoing intervention….but if I had reason to believe my son was misbehaving, I would have no qualms about speaking my mind, then backing away and letting the chips fall where they may….

Emilyy's avatar

Everyone has their flaws, or perceived flaws. The thing about being overweight is that one of your flaws is right out there for everyone to see and judge and persecute you for. Far fewer people are going around saying, “My daughter-in-law has mental health issues, and I’m worried about my son’s wandering eye and concerned that her disability will be passed on to their children”—because that’s all inside. Being overweight just puts one very negatively-perceived trait right out there in the public eye, so that no matter how many awesome qualities that person may have, all we see from the outside is, “That person is fat.”

I do understand the very real concern about health. But I am concerned about the unhealthy people in my life, not just the fat people in my life. This woman should be concerned if her weight is causing health problems. But she’s probably a heck of a lot less likely to make healthy changes in her life if everyone’s nagging her to do so, and also given the fact that she just gave birth. Hell, I drink and smoke and eat like crap sometimes, and nobody’s coming up to me and telling me to get my crap together for “health’s sake.” But if I were overweight, it might be a different story.

And yes, I agree with what’s been said by cyndyh and others that the roving eye is not because of the weight. Men cheat on conventionally gorgeous Barbie-looking women all the time. More than likely, it’s not about the appearance of his wife, and there’s a bigger problem. No pun intended.

scamp's avatar

First of all, the woman has just had a baby, for crying out loud!! What better way to guarantee her prolonged post- partum depression than to start bugging her about her weight. You say she was overweight before this pregnancy? So why all the concern now? I think this man and his mother should butt out and work on helping her, not tearing her down. And he should keep his eyes on his wife and new child where they belong. Sounds like this man needs a little attitude adjustment, along with his mother.

If he wants a second child with this woman, he needs to do what it takes to secure his marriage, and he can start by supporting his wife instead of allowing his Mother to make comments about her weight. I have a feeling there are many more problem in this marriage than simply what has been discussed here. This sounds like a plot to an episode of Jerry Springer to me. Tell the Mother-in -law to butt out, and if she feels like she just has to butt in, tell her to teach her son how to be a loving and faithful husband.

deaddolly's avatar

Yes, sadly ppl judge overweight ppl constantly. They’re fat, lazy, gluttons. No one takes into consideration that there may be medical problems or other issues involved.

and, i agree with everyone, there’s a deeper problem there than just this woman’s weight.

Mr_M's avatar

This woman’s weight is NOT the problem. The MIL is making that the scape goat for, possibly, her OWN meddling and certainly her own SON’S faults. That irritates me.

marinelife's avatar

About all she could do if she were truly interested in the woman’s health is along the lines of what basp said.

She could ask her if she will join your friend for evening walks while dad and granddad watch the kids.

Or tell her daughter-in-law she wants someone to go with her to a dance class or a yoga class. Maybe offer to pay for both of them.

Like the others though, I suspect your friend is really just being judgmental and not actually caring.

augustlan's avatar

Though I agree with most everything written here, I did note that the MIL “doesn’t want to bring it up with her daughter-in-law”, so maybe she’s not the evil MIL we’re all making her out to be. I’d suggest you tell your friend, in the nicest way possible, that they are adults and she needs to let go.

Trustinglife's avatar

I’m grateful for Augustlan’s response. I know my friend to be caring. She’s concerned. Perhaps there’s judgment there too. Anyone not have judgment? Anyone?

I’m shocked and truthfully – pissed off – at the judgment and bitterness leveled against this woman. And her son! My goodness. By the way, people: she had CONCERNS about him developing a roving eye. I couldn’t believe how many of you jumped to the conclusion that he was an asshole and how bad of a husband and father he is! Wow wow wow. I know him, and that is so untrue. I’m offended, and pissed off on his behalf. Some of you are pretty quick to jump to conclusions. If that’s you, I implore you to look at your beliefs about men and husbands.

Ok. Deep breath. It seems like this question touched a nerve. I know I’m feeling it myself, and I certainly heard that in some of the responses.

To be clear: I know all the people involved here. These are healthy, reasonable, caring people. The son and his wife have an amazing relationship. They are highly functional, very successful and run a business together that helps a lot of people. This is NOT an episode from Jerry Springer.

The mother cares about them a lot, and worries a little. She KNOWS the negative impact it would have if she expressed them, and SHE WOULDN’T DREAM OF DOING SO. But still having the concerns, she confided in me about them. (Can you imagine being in her shoes? Having concerns, and not knowing what to do with them?)

Personally, I don’t share her concerns and told her as much. But she’s still worried. So I thought my friend could get some ideas and perspective here. I did glean a few things from the responses to share with her. Thank you for those – especially Nimis, Basp, Judi, Augustlan.

It is very possible that her judgment is coming from ignorance and short-sightedness. But I was so taken aback by the overall bitterness, judgment, and projection of evil on this woman, that I recommended that she not read the responses. I thought Fluther as a community was more compassionate than this. Perhaps it would have been different if she had posted herself. I now wish that my friend and I could have chosen a better title for the question than how to deal with an overweight family member. A more accurate title might have been, How to deal with one’s own judgments about a family member?

Still experiencing shock and anger over here. My trust in Fluther seriously took a hit with this conversation.

So my message to you – whoever’s reading this – when you respond to a question such as this, is to try and put yourself in the shoes of the questioner. I’ve been guilty of this too, at times being snarky or dismissive. In this case, representing my friend here really woke me up to the impact of what that’s like – being the recipient of assumption and insult. The woman was looking for some help and fresh perspective. Not dismissal.

Mr_M's avatar

Er, YOU said:

“My friend has concerns about a second child being overweight, as well as her son having a roving eye”.

Sounded to me like he HAS one she’s worried about and that it would get worse if the DIL gained weight. Maybe you should have said “He doesn’t have one now but she is concerned…”

You should be appreciative of all the answers you get, whether you like them or not. I took the time out TO HELP YOU with your problem. Everyone else did too. Instead, you’ve interpreted them as personal attacks against the people (which would be impossible – no one knows them, except for what you told us) and attacked innocent people back.

Continue with attitudes like this and there would BE no reason to ask a question here – no one will run to help you.

cheebdragon's avatar

mr_m- you’re too funny! You must have children, because that last sentence sounded similar to “keep it up little boy, and I’ll give you something to cry about”.....

Mr_M's avatar

Thanks! Geesh! What a nasty response that was!

poofandmook's avatar

@Trustinglife: Read your question over again, and you’ll see where we could all get the assumption that she’s trying to meddle. “My friend… doesn’t know what to do.” We all basically said that she should not do anything. Concerns are concerns, but if she says anything to the son or the DIL, then she’s meddling. And the roving eye part, no matter how you slice it, is terribly judgmental on her part… both on the DIL (for being heavy) and the son (for lack of confidence in his morals).

You bring up a good point about all of us having judgments. But does that mean that we’re not allowed to be irritated by someone else’s judgments? Especially ones that hit close to home, like this one happens to for me? While nobody should be judgmental, this is not a perfect world.

Based on the information we were given, we answered the question placed before us. If it wasn’t worded or thought out well enough to effectively deal with a sensitive topic to so many people, I’m sorry but that’s not really our fault. I don’t think any of us were wearing our psychic hats that day.

cyndyh's avatar

@Trustinglife: You asked for our opinions on the matter and we gave them to you. If you were just looking for people to agree with what you already think, this is the wrong place. Any way you slice it, you’ve stated that your friend is either blaming DIL’s weight for her son’s roving eye or potential roving eye which is ignorant.

You said:
“Some of you are pretty quick to jump to conclusions. If that’s you, I implore you to look at your beliefs about men and husbands.”

I’d advise you to tell your friend that if she thinks DIL’s weight can cause her son to have a roving eye.

Trustinglife's avatar

@poofandmook, very good point – I can definitely see that how the question was worded contributed to the response. I’ll be clearer and more careful in the future about my choice of words – especially on such a sensitive topic. Thanks.

cak's avatar

Actually, your trust in Fluther should be reaffirmed, not damaged in any way shape or form. What you got were honest answers and insightful answers. Judi had a great post. Many others were great, as well.

When you ask a question that you know could touch a nerve, you’ve gotta have thick skin. Also, as you have said you will be in the future, be careful in your choice of wording…they responded to the way the question was worded.

I think we all know that weight is a touchy subject – either direction. Over or under, it can be difficult to discuss.

babygalll's avatar

Tell your friend to stay out of it and to worry about himself. Everyone is responsible for themselves!

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