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To worry about friends daughter

29 replies

PeopleWhoRun · 18/11/2019 23:17

Hello, I have a really good friend who I've known for years. She has an 8 year old daughter who has always been incredibly skinny.

I met her and her daughter a couple of weeks ago, but the daughter looks skeletal. I know kids come in all different shapes and sizes, but honestly she looked ill. Her clothes were so unbelievably baggy, she couldn't keep her leggings up. Her eyes are sunken, she looks exhausted and her cheeks are drawn in.

I was shocked. But also I overheard a few people (strangers) discussing how skinny she was whilst we were out.

Friend has been approached by the school on a number of occasions saying it is becoming a bigger issue as daughter never finishes her meals, is not putting on weight. They said to her that they may need to refer daughter for help. (This was a couple of years ago now and friend has never mentioned anything else)

We had lunch out but young girl didn't want anything, my friend didn't say anything to encourage her.

I feel like if I were my friend I would be going to GP or school and asking for help. I'm concerned that my friend doesn't seem to be bothered. She is a fantastic mother by the way and her daughter is an absolute credit to her. But she looks unwell.

Can anyone think of any suggestions on how to broach this with her? Or would I be unreasonable to?

My concern is that little one needs a bit of help before this gets out of hand and becomes a bigger issue.

OP posts:

Merryoldgoat · 18/11/2019 23:19

Do you know for a fact that your friend hasn’t approached her GP?


MsSlightyConfused · 18/11/2019 23:21

Just say it. If you’re noticing it, the school is noticing it and strangers are noticing it then clearly something isn’t right.

Maybe your friend can’t see it, maybe help us already in place. That doesn’t matter, you can’t be this worried then not say anything for fear of offending.

Ask to see your friend and just say it. “Friend, I hope you don’t mind me saying but I’m really really worried about you DD. She looks really ill. Have you been to the dr?”


PurpleDaisies · 18/11/2019 23:22

People are very good at hiding things they’re worried about. The school are obviously on the case. I’m not sure it would be helpful for you to be too. I’d be making sure I was generally supportive if she wants to open up.

The advice is not to put pressure on people with eating disorders to eat and not to focus on them too much.


foooookinghell · 18/11/2019 23:23

I'd say probably something along the lines of she looks a bit poorly today is she ok? Has she got a "bug" that's going away? This may prompt friend to open up to you. I'd guess she already has done something about it.


Branster · 18/11/2019 23:29

There’s no way the mother isn’t aware of the issue so it’s very likely she has seen go, dietician etc.
If you are concerned and if she is a good friend, perhaps you could gently approach the subject by saying that the child look very tired then gradually get to the problem of weight. There might be a bigger health concern here that you are not aware of, like an actual serious illness or some form of stress.
Yes, lots of kids are skinny (in fact, at 8, there’s no reason for children to be other than skinny with the amount of energy they use and activities they do if they are fuelled by a healthy, substantial, nutritious diet but clothes don’t fall off them. . However skinny doesn’t mean sunken eyes and drawn in cheeks.


meyouandlulutoo · 18/11/2019 23:40

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AtSea1979 · 18/11/2019 23:42

If your friend is telling you the school is on to it etc then presumably you were talking about it ? and that is the time to offer support.


blueshoes · 18/11/2019 23:43

Since she is your good friend, I'd would just ask her outright whether her daughter is ok.


Pardonwhat · 18/11/2019 23:44

I’d just be tempted to say “how did that referral ever get on”


Mjlp · 19/11/2019 01:01

If you’re noticing it, the school is noticing it and strangers are noticing it then clearly something isn’t right.

Not true.

I read a traumatic post today about children who were taken into care because of poor nutrition and understanding of children's needs. Those children seemed less at risk than this one


Strangers are always 'discussing' how skinny I am. And 'discussing' it is a very, very polite way of putting it.

I've always been skinny and I always will be. I'm 42, I have 5 children, who are also skinny, and I'm currently pregnant with number 6. Apart from my baby bump, I look skeletal. My leggings/jeans are baggy, my eyes are sunken and my cheeks are drawn it. Sometimes I feel exhausted. I am completely healthy. As are my children. Some people are just naturally skinny. If I'm not hungry at 'lunch time' then I simply won't eat then. If I feel full half way through a meal, then I simply don't finish it. I've always had a small appetite and preferred healthy food.

When I was at school in the 80s & 90s I was always bullied in the playground because of the way I look and now random strangers in the street always 'discuss' my weight. I always hear them whispering, or shouting: skinny, skeleton, matchstick, snap legs, anorexic, emaciated, ill, ugly.

When I was at school one teacher once made a comment about my weight, but nothing ever came of it. My children's schools have never commented on their weight. One midwife, during my 4th pregnancy, tried to refer me, but they wouldn't accept me, because there's nothing 'wrong' with me, I'm just naturally skinny. That's my point. Some people are just naturally skinny.

The school are clearly aware of your friend's daughter, yet nothing seems to have come of it. So maybe there's nothing 'wrong' with her and she's just naturally skinny too.


VenusTiger · 19/11/2019 01:19

I think you should brooch it by assuming she’s sought professional help OP - she’s your friend and you say she’s a great mother. Refer to the conversation you had a couple of years ago, and ask how her DD is doing with it all, as you’ve noticed she didn’t want to eat when you all did on your outing recently. That way, you’re indirectly pointing out that you’re concerned for her DD without discussing her appearance.


BoomBoomsCousin · 19/11/2019 02:09

If she has sought help it’s likely she’s been told not to pressure her daughter so she would avoid talking to you about it while her daughter is there or encouraging her daughter to eat in front of you.

If she’s a good friend then maybe raise it when the two of you are alone and see what she says. Potentially you could also raise a concern with the school too. They may be better placed to take appropriate action.


kateandme · 19/11/2019 02:58

if shes a good friend yo utalk to her.nothign worse than pissing around the bush if its on fire. ask her,tell her your concnerned.if she is sick.if she has say an eating disorder than its needs amaing friends to talk not judge or be iffy or silently stare or never mention it.she will need strong support behind her.friends who know of such things and know how fucking hard they are to both help and get support.
and if she is that sick that all these people are concerned then you need to mention it!
"you know i love you,and your dd and so i want to let you know im here for you but i can not stay silent when ive noticed how unwell is looking.can we talk.are you ok to talk if not then thats ok too.but im here for you and i wouldnt be a friend or any kind of person if i didnt tell you im really worried hun"


Monty27 · 19/11/2019 03:00

You probably need to talk to your friend about it. Horse's mouth and all of that.
Stop making assumptions and judging whilst you actually know nothing.
It's good you care.


Pinkandbluecandyfloss · 19/11/2019 08:22

I'm naturally skinny and the problem is that in a world of increasingly over weight people, other people genuinely can't recognise a healthy weight, so people who are naturally skinny appear even more skinny than others.

Skinny doesn't necessarily equal unhealthy. I'm very skinny, but I'm very healthy. Like mjlp people are always discussing the way I look. I used to do a lot of running, because I was fast, because I'm skinny. Professional runners are very skinny, but they're very healthy too.

As the school are on it, I think it's covered, but if you want your own peace of mind, you could mention something to your friend along the lines of her dd didn't eat anything for lunch when you were out and you were just wondering if she was ok. I wouldn't mention anything about her appearance though.


Bananamanwoman · 19/11/2019 09:20

Another skinny person here.
You don't know she hasn't been to the doctor.
All the people saying just say it! Don't! I'm not saying don't say anything, but don't just say it. Think very carefully about how you phrase it.
If your friend's daughter was very overweight you wouldn't just say it would you. I mean, you wouldn't use the same, reverse, type of language you've used here would you - she's incredibly fat, her cheeks are all podgy, she's got piggy eyes, her pot belly is bursting through her leggins, for lunch she ate loads of chips and burgers and pizza and cakes and chocolate, etc. It's offensive. Yet people think these types of comments, reversed, are acceptable to make to and about skinny people, eg 'not eating anything, sunken eyes, cheeks drawn in.' It's offensive.

Some people are natually on the big side. Some people are natually on the small side. Nowadays people are generally more overweight than underweight, so people can't recognise a healthy weight. Skinny doesn't automatically mean unhealthy. I'm skinny and healthy and I used to be put in all the running competitions at school and yes people are always discussing my appearance too.


user1471505356 · 19/11/2019 09:58

If she is running around playing normally I would be less concerned.


Savingshoes · 19/11/2019 11:16

The child's height and weight is checked by the school nurse for that area I think.
If she's under the BMI then the parent is pulled in and options are discussed.
There's a few reasons why a child at 8 isn't gaining weight and although one is an eating disorder there's some equally more scarier reasons.


weymouthswanderingmermaid · 19/11/2019 11:36

@PeopleWhoRun OP when was the last time you discussed the issue with your friend? You know lots of details so I'm assuming that she's talked openly about it before? There may be things going on the the background that you're not aware of, referrals etc.


Thatagain · 19/11/2019 12:10

Another skinny person here. As long as she eats and has an appetite she is ok. If she here's people discussing her waigh then she will have a complex. I've alway's been skinny the smallest in my year at school. I eat all the time and just cannot put weight on when I do not eat as sometimes I just do not feel hungry then it's hard to start to eat again. So as long as she is eating she should be fine.


PeopleWhoRun · 19/11/2019 16:22

Thank you so much for your replies. I'm sorry if I have offended anyone with my description - @Bananamanwoman I was staying what I saw and didn't really think about it being the other way round, you're so right.

@Thatagain she's not eating normally though, or behaving normal. She seems exhausted and she would happily skip meals.

I feel like I'm drip feeding but the daughter asked me and DD if we like her, because her mum had told her people don't like bony people and that she won't have any friends.

To that I replied "of course we like you, that's why we meet up with you". I said absolutely nothing about food/eating/bony people. I think this is what has prompted me to come on here - I'm getting the vibes that my friend doesn't really know what else to do. It's not like my friend to say something like that to her daughter.

Also my daughter (4) had some crackers and cheese as a snack, friends daughter said how unhealthy cheese is and that we shouldn't eat it because it "literally makes you die quicker". I was actually speechless at that point and didn't know what to say - friend was in the loo at that point too. I managed to say "we try to have a little bit of everything or else we'd get bored" and sort of laugh it off.

@weymouthswanderingmermaid we do speak about it every few months... She was given food charts at school, but then started stealing other children's clean plate stickers.

I'm seeing them again next week, I think I'll just say something like "looks like you've both been really busy daughter looks shattered" and then see if it goes anywhere.

OP posts:

Footiefan2019 · 19/11/2019 16:24

She sounds like she has a disordered view on eating with comments like that about cheese. Who the hell has told her that ?!


Thehop · 19/11/2019 16:32

The comments about cheese are worrying for sure.


BoomBoomsCousin · 19/11/2019 17:28

m seeing them again next week, I think I'll just say something like "looks like you've both been really busy daughter looks shattered" and then see if it goes anywhere.

Don't do this in front of the daughter. Talk to your friend when her daughter can't overhear.


CSIblonde · 19/11/2019 17:57

I'd say something. The lack of energy, stealing NG clean plate stickers & comments about cheese making you 'die quicker' say to me it's an ED not naturally skinny. FWIW I was really naturally skinny ,which got loads of comments about stick legs etc, til my 30's, but I never had sunken eyes, no energy & clothes falling of me. I ate like a horse & was 5ft 10 & size 8. You know your friend best, but as an ex teacher I noticed many parents were in total denial re their children's very obvious health or educational issue. At some level they know, but (huge 'But' ) don't want to admit it, as they see it as a reflection on their parenting.

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