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Should I accept this from my mum?

(24 Posts)
abcdangel Mon 18-Jul-11 09:10:59

Will try to keep this brief. My mum has always been a bit obsessed about her weight. Looking back at my childhood, it was a huge issue, not that she was ever really fat. She is currently the slimmest I have ever known her, I think this is due to her grief at having lost my dad.

When I was 11 she put me on a diet (I wasn't fat just not skinny). She defends this by saying that she was plump as a child and didn't want me to grow up feeling like she did.

Fast forward 30 years, my own weight has fluctuated over the years, between a 16 and a slim 12, currently a 14 (I'm 5'6"). At the moment I am not feeling that great about myself.

But my mum has just had a go at me about my weight. She professses to know how I am feeling, she says she knows I must be unhappy (how could anyone overweight be happy?), and says she worries about me because I don't exercise enough. I told her that it was outrageous to speak to me like that and how dare she. She stayed very calm and repeated that as a mum you never stop worrying and she is allowed to say what she thinks. Last night I told her on the phone that she had upset me, she just said "for goodness sake".

My husband is absolutely furious with her. We are meant to be going on holiday with her and I am now dreading it.

Do I let this go AGAIN, or do I have this out with her and tell her how unacceptable her behaviour is? In other respects she is a good person and we get on well.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Mon 18-Jul-11 09:56:13

Poor you. It sounds like she projected her issues onto you, at an age where you were defenseless, particularly against a god-like parent.

It was not fair of her to do that then, and it is not fair of her to continue. You are right to be upset.

You could try basic assertiveness techniques to ask her to take responsibility for her behaviour and change it:

1. describe behaviour. ("Mum, you just commented on my weight.")
2. say how it makes you feel, using only "I" statements which therefore cannot be refuted, as they are your feelings and yours alone. ("This makes me feel unhappy and vulnerable.")
3. ask for something immediate and achievable to end the behaviour; don't say please and don't frame it as a question she could say "no" to. ("Stop commenting on my weight from now on.")

It's not magic. Your mother may most likely resist it, and it could take a lot of repetition for her to get the message that you're just not going to accept this behaviour any more.

Good luck.

PS: you are fine just the way you are. But you know that, right?

abcdangel Mon 18-Jul-11 10:53:22

Thanks so much for your reply ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow, seeing it written down like that is great and I will try it out.

I don't think my mum can have any idea what she does to me when she says these things to me, it's like my achilles heel - but if I explained that to her I think it would trigger a conversation along the following lines:
"but why are you so sensitive about this - it must be because you know you are overweight" and therefore that would make her right!

Curiousmama Mon 18-Jul-11 10:58:26

sad How awful for you. Goodness you don't have a weight problem. Agree it's her own issues she's projecting. Good post from IMAPN hope you take her advice. My mum is quite fattist but even she doesn't tell me to lose weight.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Mon 18-Jul-11 11:02:24

No doubt she will -- many people resist being put in front of their responsibilities.

If she does, be broken record, and just repeat phrases 2 and 3. And try (hard to do!) not to be upset by her denial, minimisation, or her throwing blame back onto you: they're her issues speaking, not yours.

Just be convinced within yourself that you have a right to be upset, and a right to ask her not to discuss your weight.

She may not ever respect this, but at least you will have asserted your position, and it will become harder and harder for her to keep getting at you if you keep it up.

Namechangerlicious Mon 18-Jul-11 11:10:07

My mum says things like this too. 5'6" and size 14 is perfectly normal i'm sure! I would do what IMAPN suggested and try to make it clear that it is rude to comment on somebody's weight. My mum also makes me feel crap about my appearance, I'm the same size as you but 4 inches shorter. She tells me I'm fat (not in those words - she'll say things like "you must be at least a size 18")

My mum came shopping with me recently, I picked up a very pretty chocolate-brown top that I really liked. She said "you can't buy that, it's a disgusting colour, i wish you wouldn't keep wearing such boring colours, why brown??? It's dull!" She had said this about me before and I had kept quiet. This time I plucked up the courage to say, in a very calm voice "It's very rude to criticise someone's colour choices, i happen to very much like this colour and it suits me. I would never dream of passing comment on what someone else chooses to wear". She shut up then smile

Don't let it go - she has her own weight issues and she is passing them on to you, which is unfair.

ShoutyHamster Mon 18-Jul-11 11:25:23

Great advice above.

I would add another potential comeback: 'Mum, do you want us to be able to maintain our good relationship? Because if so then constant criticism isn't the way to do it. I feel our relationship is getting more fragile as a result of your attitude towards me, which makes me sad.'

glasscompletelybroken Mon 18-Jul-11 12:09:28

I get so frustrated when mothers do this to their daughters. Like most women I dieted a lot when my kids were young - trying to get rid of the baby weight. When my eldest daughter got to her teens I threw away the scales in the house as I didn't want 3 weight-obsessed teen-age daughters. I haven't weighed myself since (16 years) and I don't think they do either.

Please don't let this spoil your holiday - I think size 14 is absolutely fine for your height and anyway it's not your size that makes you look good, it's your smile.

If your mum mentions it just tell her that you have many amazing qualities and that it's a shame that, as your mum, she can't focus on these and be proud.

HerHissyness Mon 18-Jul-11 12:14:30

My dad was like this my entire life. When I looked at childhood pics, I was shocked to see that I wasn't fat. Even at the time I remember hating those pics cos I was hideous in them.

Turns out I wasn't any fatter than my gymnastic fit little sister... hmm I wish my mum had been strong enough to tell my dad to STFU..

OP, please don't listen to her, give her a wide berth for a while, tell her that you would rather spend time with people that add to your life, not detract.

HeyYouJimmy Mon 18-Jul-11 13:49:52

Could you ask your mum if she would speak to a stranger in the street, like she speaks to you? Could you also remind her that you are a completely separate person, not an extension of herself.

It's normal for a parent to worry about their sons and daughters, but it's not acceptable for parents to involve themselves with their adult DC's problems unless invited to by that particular DC.

Playdohinthewashingmachine Mon 18-Jul-11 16:55:16

Tell her that, actually, she is not allowed to say what she thinks. She can worry about you all she likes but she needs to keep those worries to herself. She needs to treat you with respect and consideration, just like any other adult friend.

If she does the "oh you're so sensitive about your weight" line, point out that you are sensitive because of her bad parenting.

You could also pick some area that your mum is sensitive about (pref not weight!) and ask her how she would feel if you "say what you think, because you worry" on that subject.

Oh, and I'm 5'4'' and a size 14, and I'm bloody not overweight!

abcdangel Mon 18-Jul-11 17:53:41

Thank you everyone, some great suggestions for dealing with this situation.

It took me well into adulthood to realise that being put on a diet at 11 is not normal, and also to realise just how deeply my food hangups run. My mum's own hangups stem from being a chubby child and from being constantly criticised by her own dad (who also freely and loudly asked me if I'd put on weight on the odd occasion).

Unfortunately she doesn't seem to realise that she is doing the same to me. I have 2 DDs of my own and have warned her that this stops here and that no matter what shape or size my DDs are, her opinion is not welcome.

We are in other respects very close and she is a kind and generous person, but in this respect, I am reassured by other peoples' comments that I am right to not accept this behaviour.

Fairenuff Mon 18-Jul-11 18:39:37

Do you want to go on holiday with her though OP?

She may not say anything but will you be concious of every 'treat' you eat? Part of enjoying your holiday is not worrying about diets and having a cream tea, chippies or a few glasses of wine imo.

Just a thought.

abcdangel Mon 18-Jul-11 21:26:23

Good point fairenuff - and I did say to my mum at the weekend that the holiday would be ruined if all she is going to do is watch what goes into my mouth aswell as hers - to which she said that was ridiculous, but we will wait and see....!
Trying to stay upbeat tho we haven't spoken for over 24 hrs now and I was the last to ring.

Curiousmama Tue 19-Jul-11 10:56:04

Aww is she sulking? Really feel for you. Hope it all gets sorted soon.

Bearskinwoolies Tue 19-Jul-11 11:06:21

Don't ring her, let her ring you. You've pointed out that her behaviour is unacceptable, and she'll be in shock that you've called her on that. Let her make the first move, and hopefully things will be better.

If she starts again, you could always use the old "That's rude/offensive - did you mean to be that rude/offensive"? line. I've found it works really well smile

MerryMarigold Tue 19-Jul-11 11:19:18

Sounds like you have all been through a hard time recently with your Dad's death, so it must be difficult dealing with anything on top of that.

From the background I'd say she has a major issue herself and is probably not the most empathetic person, so she thinks you have it too.

You sound like a very healthy weight. I am a size 14, and considerably shorter than you. I don't feel great about my weight, but neither is it at the top of my worries. I have some friends who are (imo) obsessed by their weight (one is a size 10 and very tall, but takes slimming pills shock) and it's made me a bit uncomfortable around them. I have other friends who are tiny (size 6) but completely unaware of weight, they are just small, and I feel ok around them. It's not because I am comparing myself to them, but because I am aware of what they must be thinking of me. I totally understand your reluctance to spend time with your Mum as it's very hurtful to think that SHE thinks your overweight and that you need to lose weight. You feel judged and unaccepted. And what any child - or indeed, friend - needs (whatever the age) is to feel accepted and loved.

I would convey to her how it's made you feel in a way that is really vulnerable (cry if you can!). And how it's made you feel your whole life. It's not about her keeping her mouth shut, but about her really changing her perceptions about the importance of size. Yes, a healthy weight is important (though you don't sound 'unhealthy', but even then it is not the be-all and end-all). Also, from your point of view, if it's fairly recently that she lost your Dad, she may be holding on to things she can control (and if she used to weight being one of these that's where she'll turn first), so just to be aware/ understanding of her need to do this. Whilst not condoning it, if you can see that it is her problem, let her have some space to deal with your Dad's death, and then maybe she can start dealing with this much older issue.

In some ways it's good she's 'said it', rather than just thinking it, and you feeling those judgments coming at you in small ways. Also really glad your dh is defending you.

abcdangel Tue 19-Jul-11 11:38:38

Thank you all.

Merry, I am not sure that she will ever change her perceptions, it's too deep rooted and stems back to her own childhood. I think that at best this is going to have to be a case of 'keep your opinions to yourself'.

Know what you mean about the control thing tho - when my dad was ill I lost a lot of weight through dieting because it was one thing I could control, I think that can be quite common.

Maybe I am reading too much into it, but I have a lovely home, 2 bright, well mannered DDs, a good marriage and my friends tell me I am fun and pretty. I don't need compliments from my mum to validate my life - but if she is going to pick on a (perceived) short coming, I feel that she could at least acknowledge something positive too - does that make sense?

BTW we've been texting normally, no mention of the elephant in the room yet though.

diddl Tue 19-Jul-11 14:04:45

Is it possible that you are "too close" to her?

I don´t know how often you see her or how much you tell her, but maybe she doesn´t see you as an adult & that you need telling what to do.

I can´t imagine my mum telling me that she was worried about me because I didn´t exercise enough!

Mind you, she wouldn´t be able to as I do!

abcdangel Tue 19-Jul-11 14:22:29

We are close and we chat a lot - I would speak to her if I had a problem and she usually comes up with good solutions.

Doesn't give her free reign to speak to me like that though, and she would never say anything like that to my DB.

diddl Tue 19-Jul-11 14:48:52

"and she would never say anything like that to my DB."

Why not?

Because he´s so perfect there´s nothing to criticise, she has more respect for him or he wouldn´t stand for it?

LadyLapsang Tue 19-Jul-11 14:49:39

I think you probably are a bit overweight as I am very tall and my BMI can easily go over 25 if I am in a dress size 14 - you can check your BMI quite easily online. However, having said that, I don't think she should have said anything to you unless you raised the issue e.g. if you had asked for her opinion.

abcdangel Tue 19-Jul-11 15:10:20

diddl - she wouldn't say it for all of the above reasons. In the past I have pointed out that she says things to me that she wouldn't say to DB and she says that mums are closer to daughters.

Lady, I know I am overweight, I haven't said I wasn't, I do not feel great about myself just now, but the last person I need pointing this out is my mum, especially when I specifically said she was out of order but she wouldn't accept that as a mum she couldn't say these things to me.

diddl Tue 19-Jul-11 15:23:16

Well in some ways it is the sort of thing that your mum should be able to tell you-as in "you look as if you could lose a couple of lbs".

On the other hand, you are an adult & it´s probably patently obvious to you that you need to lose weight, & it´s entirely up to you what you do about it.

Unless you are always moaning on to your mum about your looks/weight or were discussing it somehow, I find it odd that she would say such a thing out of the blue.

And if she has upset you, she should acknowledge that imo.

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