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Talking to Parents About Their Weight Comments
It’s time to declare your body’s independence, especially from your parents. This means confronting their criticisms and unsolicited advice and assuring them that you’re in charge (even if you don’t feel it). Self-empowerment is the name of the game.
Your job is to help your parents stop making critical, unkind comments about your body: You look so much better when you’re thinner, What about your health, You’ve got to do something about that sweet tooth, Why can’t you just diet like I do, I’m only saying this for your own good. It doesn’t matter if comments are well-meant, which they mostly are but sometimes aren’t. It doesn’t even matter if they’re said out of love and caring.
These comments are inappropriate, hurtful, harmful to your recovery, and the hallmark of parents being out of touch with the reality that you no longer need to listen to or put up with their admonishments. Most (but not all) parents want the best for you and hate to see you hurting yourself which is why they can’t keep silent. Saying nothing feels as if they’re not doing the job they’ve always done of taking care of you. Erroneously believing that they can’t tolerate feeling helpless, they continue to try to “help.”
Below are three mini-scripts of what to say to them. Aim for a neutral or assertive tone. Don’t be apologetic, get defensive, or back down. Speak from feelings of power.
I know you love and want the best for me, but your comments about my body/weight are upsetting. I hear them as critical, hurtful, and unloving. Ironically, you can love me best by not saying anything about my weight and letting me take care of my body which I’m trying my hardest to do. It will take time, but I’m really trying my best.
How would you feel if I constantly criticized your appearance? I know I’m fat. I’m not happy about it, but am learning to feel compassion, not contempt, for my body and eating. I know you’ve had your own eating/weight struggles and don’t want me to suffer as you have. But it’s too late for that. I’m already suffering. The most loving thing you can do now is never to comment about my weight or eating.
I’m tired of telling you not to make comments about my body. What is it you don’t understand about keeping silent? I know you feel helpless, but that’s not my problem. It’s yours. I’m trying to fix my eating. Share your distress with someone else, because I’m tuning you out. Next time you comment, I’ll walk away/hang up.
Make sure to sincerely thank your parents for hearing you out and abiding by your request. Let them know that you’re an adult who wants to act and be treated