Dear Amy: My 31-year-old daughter is "happy with her size." She doesn't mind that she's nearly 300 pounds at 5 feet 5 inches tall — until she has a mood swing, and then she gets mad at me because I'm not big like her.
I never bring up the subject. When she does, I don't know how to address the subject. Other than that, we get along well. I do worry that her health is at risk, but I don't dare say a word about her being overweight. What should I do?
Amy says: She is an adult, and she is free to make life choices — just as you are. What she does not get to do is to blame or shame you. The same goes for you, by the way.
The National Health Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health states the following: "Obesity is a serious medical condition that can cause complications such as metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancers and sleep disorders."
Yet, despite the risk factors presented by obesity, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both say it's possible to be both obese and healthy.
You convey that you would somehow feel better if your daughter felt worse. She is your daughter. How would her unhappiness serve you?
You are not responsible for your daughter's mood swings, nor should you let her manipulate you. Encourage her to get regular medical checkups.
For crying out loud
Dear Amy: My 25-year-old stepdaughter is an absolute dream. Lovely, smart, and thoughtful. She is working full time at her first professional job.
She has one habit I'm not sure about. When she is upset, she cries so hard that she can become hysterical. She will then seek comfort and, once receiving it, recovers quickly and well.
Is this how an adult should process her feelings?
Amy says: Whether this is how an adult should process her feelings is almost immaterial; this is how your stepdaughter does process her feelings.
My take is that as long as she doesn't create or extend the drama beyond its limited shelf life, and as long as she recovers fully, you should accept this as an emotional flare that she likely will learn to modulate as she continues to mature.
Many of us have had (gulp) embarrassing episodes of crying at work. Let's hope she is spared this experience.
Time away helps
Dear Amy: I was struck by the letter from the grandmother of two very troubled grandchildren and a third who seemed to be stable. Her daughter was pressuring her to take one of these teenagers for the summer.
The suggestion you made to the grandmother to have her one grandchild who was NOT struggling stay with her for a while was spot on. That teenager would do well to get away from the drama at home.
I was 17 when my sibling died. My parents were consumed with grief that summer, and our home life was a mess. I am eternally grateful to a woman who offered me a summer job babysitting with her children. I needed to get away from home as much as possible.
Those children, now grown, still remember the fun we had that summer. It was a bright spot in an otherwise miserable situation.
Amy says: This is a profound tribute to the healing power offered by the duties and distractions of taking care of children.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.