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What do you do when your daughter is overweight?

One mother confessed that when she looks at her overweight daughter, she sees her as a failure. And then she translates her daughter’s failure into her own failure.

“I try to hide my disappointment and discontent with the way she looks,” said the mother,” but it’s always there. I also make subtle comments, which really aren’t so subtle. In the past I’ve said, “I heard about a great diet book. Should I buy it for you?

“I’ve also said, ‘It’s a great day; let’s go for a walk.’ What I’m really saying is, “You need some exercise.’ The worst comment was when I said, “Why, you have a double chin just like me.’

“When I look at her, I think she’s lazy. She has no pride. I wonder where I went wrong.”

Another woman said that it drives her crazy to watch her daughter eat. “I want to say, ‘Stop eating that roll and butter. Get control of yourself. Don’t you have any respect for yourself?’ I don’t dare say anything because in the past I have and it just makes her mad and not want to be with me.”

“I never stop bugging my daughter,” said another woman. “I’m always coming up with a plan. I take her articles and books on weight loss. Last year I enrolled her in a weight-loss program and she lost 50 pounds. Then she gained it all back. My next plan was humiliation. I told her I loved her, but the world hated fat people. This month I’ve offered to pay for her to enroll at a gym. Does all this do her any good? It doesn’t seem to help her, but it helps me.

“My daughter is 70 pounds overweight and seems to be on her way up,” moaned another mom. “She eats all the time. Her room is full of candy wrappers. I’m thin, and I just don’t get it. Nothing I say to her has an impact. She’s sweet and a successful high school student. She plays in the band and has lots of friends. I know she’s unhappy with her weight, but she can’t seem to get control of it.”

Yet another mother said, “The worst time for me is when I have to introduce my daughter, who is at least 90 pounds overweight, to someone she’s never met. I cringe. I think that the person must be thinking how ugly she is. I smile and am chatty and act like everything is fine, but on the inside I feel terrible and know it’s not fine. I feel bad for my daughter and bad for me.”

If you are a mother having bad feelings about an overweight daughter, you know that your daughter also is struggling with feelings about her weight. The best course of action is to ask her directly, “Is there anything I can do to help you with your weight? Or would you rather I said nothing?”

Some daughters will ask to be bugged a bit. They want their mothers to bring them diet programs and suggestions. This keeps the problem out in the open as opposed to pretending there isn’t a problem. Other daughters will ask that their mother not push food or tempt them with homemade cakes and cookies.

Some daughters do not want their mothers to say anything about their weight problem. They already know they have one, and they’ve already tried any number of diets and exercise programs.

If you truly want to be helpful to your overweight daughter, ask her what she wants from you. And then have the strength and courage to give her what she asks for.

To take care of your own feelings about her weight, confide in a favorite friend from time to time. Too, you might want to get a bit philosophical and ask yourself, “Why did I bring this child into the world?”

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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I stopped by my friend’s house the other day. She wasn’t home, but her son Steve was there. He’s back from college for the summer. He was sitting in a lawn chair, taking advantage of the sun and reading Dylan Thomas.

“So, Steve, what’s going on?” I asked. He said, “Not much.” He’s been reading, and playing guitar, and doing some writing, and walking in the woods.

“Sounds good,” I said.

Then I asked, “Are you working this summer?” I couldn’t resist playing parent.

“Sure,” he grinned. “But I need to find employment.”

“Where have you looked?” I queried.

“Well,” he said nonchalantly, “I made a few phone calls – landscaping, nurseries, the Muny opera. There’s nothing. I got a lead from a friend, some sort of construction. Maybe they’ll call me today.”

“And if they don’t?” I asked. (I’m like a dog who won’t let go of a bone.)

“Well,” he said, “I guess I’ll make some more telephone calls. Maybe I’ll go to some businesses.”

“So how else are you driving your parents crazy?” Now I was grinning.

Steve smiled and said, “My mom doesn’t like my long hair. She says it makes me look rough. Personally, me, I don’t care how I look.

“I also brought home a lot of stuff – a chest of drawers, some amplifiers, a chair, books, an air conditioner. There’s not enough room for everything. So it’s sitting around.

“When I first got home, I took my bed apart and put the mattress on the floor in my room. That also created a mess. I left the air conditioner out under the carport. My mom wants it in the house. She thinks it might get ripped off. I can’t imagine someone coming here and picking up an old air conditioner. I’ll bring it in the house when I need it.”

“I see why you’re parents could be annoyed, Steve. So what’s your side of the story? How are your folks driving you nuts?” I could see a column in the making.

“It’s culture shock,” he said. “I have no freedom. I’m used to staying up ’till four o’clock in the morning and getting up around eleven. Now I can’t make noise after ten at night. It’s a whole different routine.

“I can’t be loud. I like to play guitar, turn up the tunes. I can’t do it when I want. I have to find somewhere else to go.

“They ask if I’ll be home for dinner. I don’t know if I’ll be home. They should just go about their routine. Pretend I’m not here. But they don’t do that.

“Mom wants me home early. She wants to know where I’m going. She nags about cleaning up the kitchen. She wants me to clean the garage. Put things in the basement. I’m not used to people directing me.”

When a child comes back to the nest, it’s a substantial adjustment for everybody. Usually parents only see how their lives have suddenly changed when a child reappears on the doorstep. And a child is only aware of how his lifestyle is suddenly altered. But for both parent and child there is an enormous adjustment taking place.

If a parent can empathize with the lifestyle change that their child is facing, and a child can grasp the modifications that the parent must make, each might be more respectful and appreciative of the other.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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When my daughter was young she went on an all-day field trip. The buses picked the children up from school at 7:00 a.m. that morning and dropped them off promptly at 5:45 p.m. About 5:30 that evening parents started arriving at the parking lot awaiting the buses. As the first bus rolled in there were smiles and shouts of “Here they come!”

I don’t think there was a parent in the parking lot who didn’t feel a little relieved at the sight of the buses and a bit of a glow at seeing their little one jump off a bus.

As I was driving my daughter home I kept looking at her and thinking how much I loved her. Some hours later when she kept getting out of bed, long after her scheduled bedtime, I didn’t feel quite so in love.

As all parents have experienced, feelings for a child change, and change, and change. Sometimes love and tender feelings get replaced by feelings of frustration and disappointment. And then it’s back to the tender feelings again. Sometimes, however, parents get caught up in negative feelings toward a particular child. And no matter what the child does, the parent has trouble seeing anything good or feeling anything positive.

Recently I spoke with one father who confessed to having difficulty liking his son. Clearly his son was rebellious and had some behaviors that most parents would find offensive. The son rarely did what he had promised. He sluffed off chores. He had trouble backing down and he thought he never made a mistake. At the same time when I pushed the   father to tell me something he liked about his son, he reluctantly admitted that the boy was a pretty good student, didn’t get in trouble at school, had a great sense of humor and a cute smile. The trick was to get the father to focus on his son’s attributes at least some of the time. This would allow the father to feel good about his son as opposed to always feeling negative.

The first thing I did was to ask the father to bring me a list of fifty things he liked about his son even if he had to go back in history and remember some of the neat things his son did as a little boy. Although the father dutifully made his list he also couldn’t wait to tell me how his son had messed up that week.

His next assignment was to only comment on the positive things his son did. The idea was to get the father to change his focus from looking at the negative to looking at the positive. This assignment did not work either.

I then came up with the idea that every time the son messed up the father would say in his head, “At least he’s alive.” When I told the father this he said, “You do have a point.”

The following week when I saw this man he said that the assignment had worked. For the first time in almost three years he felt some genuine closeness toward his son. He no longer saw his son as an incompetent. What he saw was a boy struggling, sometimes inappropriately, for his own identity. As this father left my office that day, he grinned a little and said, “You know, I really do love that kid.”

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Raising children is the perfect opportunity for improving yourself. As a parent you have many chances to learn humility, self-control, tolerance, fortitude, and patience.

For example, you may hear your children talking to each other in a way that is not attractive. Your reprimand must set an example for them. You must make your comment in a pleasant way.

When you confront them on the way they are talking to each other, they will turn their meanness on you. Your job will be to stay calm, stay polite, and stay on the issue.

Sometimes a child will come to you with a particularly tough complaint. What should he do about some boys who are pushing and shoving him when he goes to his locker?

If you offer to call the principal, he will tell you with a mean tone that your idea is dumb. Everyone will think he’s a baby.

If you tell him to try to avoid these bullies and not go to his locker during the day, he’ll say that’s a stupid idea. And then he’ll ask sarcastically how he could carry all his books and not go to his locker.

If you suggest that he take some of his friends along for protection when he goes to his locker, he’ll say you don’t understand.

You are trying to offer him help. Help he asked for. But somewhere along the way he has decided that you are the enemy.

This discussion will take every ounce of diplomacy and self-control on your part not to tell him to just go ahead and get beat up.

Daughters frequently come with hair problems. They hate their hair. It’s too curly or too straight, too fine or too thick. They also hate the cut and perm they insisted on getting. Because you paid for it, their hair is your fault. It takes courage and strength to let someone rant and rave at you and not defend or attack back.

Sometimes, out of concern for how your daughter feels about herself, you offer to help with her hair. But always the french braid you nimbly fix doesn’t look right to her. Or she thinks the way you comb her hair is old-fashioned.

If you are able to walk out of her room without saying anything in defense of yourself or leveling an attack against her, you have grown in understanding, tolerance, and charity.

One mother, as she was driving her daughter, who had complained of a headache, to school, asked, “Are you feeling better?” Her daughter’s hostile response, “No I’m sick.”

The mother then asked if her daughter had taken an aspirin. Again with hostility the daughter answered, “Yes, I have taken an aspirin. Stop asking me.”

A third time the woman tried to take care of her daughter by suggesting that maybe it would be better if she took a day off school. The daughter snapped, “I’m going.”

When the mother pulled her car into the school lot, she wanted to say, “Get out of the car, you brat.” What she said was, “Have a nice day.” This mother showed restraint and caring.

If you want to become a better person, your children will provide you with many opportunities to practice.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

 

 

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When children grow up, the parent-child relationship is destined to change. When both are adults, it’s time to change the way they relate and communicate. This, however, does not come easily.

Grown children speak out to their parents…

Respect that my schedule is different from yours. Try not to call too late or during our dinner. And when I can’t talk, be understanding.

Realize I can’t telephone you every day and understand that my not calling has nothing to do with love.

Don’t try to make me feel guilty because I don’t attend church every week.

Don’t tell me what other kids do for their parents.

Don’t talk about my father’s short­comings and expect me to take your side.

Please be understanding when I turn down your invitations – I have a very busy life.

Don’t expect my political viewpoints to be the same as yours.

When I share things such as I’m getting a dog, or we’re thinking of moving, don’t become negative and try to talk me out of it.

Don’t go on about everyone’s problems or how bad the world is.

If I share one of my problems with you, don’t minimize it and say I have nothing to worry about.

When I do nice things for you please be appreciative.

Compliment me.

Don’t always talk about my brothers’ and sisters’ accomplishments.

When you come over for dinner, please offer to help but don’t take over.

Don’t talk against me to my children.

Treat me like an adult, with respect.

Parents and grown children desire a good relationship, but sometimes it’s not so clear how to get there. Evaluate the sugges­tions I’ve given in this column. Do you need to do anything differently?

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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As Mike was coming home one night, he found a puppy in the street. Who can resist a tiny, helpless, homeless puppy?

When Mike’s parents saw the dog, they reluctantly said yes he could keep the dog. But the dog was his responsibility. Mike would have to feed and water the dog, take him to the vet, and pay his vet bills. And the dog was to reside outside primarily.

Mike is 23 years old, so the requirements to keep the puppy didn’t seem harsh or extreme.

Mike’s mother agreed to buy an insulated doghouse. She also bought the dog a plastic swimming pool because “he seemed to love the water.”

Mike sort of kept his agreement with his parents. Sometimes the puppy was left with no water. Sometimes Mike took off with his friends for the weekend, so it befell his parents to take care of the puppy.

Now, as in many families, everyone in Mike’s family works outside the home or goes to school all day. So no one is home during the day. And dogs become bored. One boring day the dog ate all the shrubs.

A friend gave Mike’s mom some beautiful Japanese iris, each marked by color. When she planted the iris, she was careful to place them according to the color scheme in her garden. The next evening the dog removed each plant from its hole.

Mike’s mother planted the iris again, giving up on the color scheme. The following morning they were out of their holes again and strewn across the yard.

Then came the weekend. Everyone was going out of town. Mike, Mike’s father, and his sister had already left town.

Two hours before Mike’s mother was to catch a plane, she walked past the kitchen door and saw the dog. ‘Who’s taking care of the dog?’ she thought. Of course she already knew the answer. She got the dog in the car and took him to her mother’s house for the weekend.

The following Monday, Mike’s mother informed him that because he was not taking care of the dog, the dog had to leave. She gave Mike six months to find a home for the dog. After that, he would have to go to the dog pound. Mike agreed.

Five months passed. The dog continued to miss meals and eat shrubs. The mother kept issuing warnings: “The dog goes in four weeks… The dog goes in two weeks… Please find a home for the dog… The dog goes in one week… Please, please find a home.”

Eventually Mike was forced to take the dog to the pound.

For the rest of that week everyone was angry at the mother. Her husband and children gave her dirty looks. They avoided talking to her. She was an outcast in her own family.

Being responsible has more down sides than most of us care to look at.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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It might be an eye opener if I focused on the ways people persecute each other in the course of a day. Here are some all too frequently used ways to persecute someone:

Blame someone else when you go off your diet.

Smoke in the home of someone who doesn’t smoke.

Be late for an early-morning breakfast date.

Don’t send an RSVP when the invitation clearly calls for it.

Let everyone else in the company know you’re going to fire someone before telling the person himself.

As you’re leaving a meeting on Friday, tell a subordinate in an ominous tone you need to talk with him Monday.

Allow a sales clerk to ring up your purchase first, even though you know someone else was ahead of you.

Always wait until the second notice before paying a bill.

Say you’ll mail a friend’s letter and then let it sit in your car for a week.

Refuse to let another driver pull into your lane.

Make your carpool sit for 10 minutes while you finish getting dressed.

Be a half-hour late for a dinner party and don’t call. And when you get there, don’t apologize.

Stay in bed until the last minute and then scream at the children to hurry up and get ready for school.

Don’t make your child-support payments on time.

Cancel a dental appointment five minutes before you are to be in the dentist’s office.

Make a lot of noise in the morning, even though everyone else is sleeping.

Don’t tip the waitress because the food doesn’t taste good.

Tell a job applicant you’ll call on Monday to tell him whether he got the job, and then don’t call.

Smoke a cigar at a meeting.

Lecture your child for an hour on his transgressions and bring up everything he has done wrong in the past.

Let your dog bark for hours outside in the middle of the night.

Simply hang up when the party on the other end says “Hello” and you realize you’ve called a wrong number.

Lend a book to a friend when you’ve already promised it to another friend.

Never pay back the petty change you borrow.

Throw your spouse’s coffee away without asking whether he or she is finished drinking it.

Use someone else’s idea but take all the credit.

Do you know any other ways that you may be persecuting someone?

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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