Ask Amy: Daughter's weight creates worry and denial

FresnoAugust 3, 2013 

Dear Amy: Due to a job layoff last year, our 32-year-old daughter has been living with my husband and me. She recently returned to work but receives a low salary and no health insurance.

She has a gluten intolerance, which requires meals without wheat and other additives. She refuses to eat the difficult-to-find and expensive gluten-free meals I purchase, accept any money or use the microwave. The food she purchases is scant.

She appears emaciated but is adamant (without medical advice) that her weight is normal. She became irate when I voiced my concern.

My husband feels that as an adult she can make her own decisions. I believe that she is rebelling against her need to return home at her age. What can we do before she is hospitalized for anorexia?

— Terrified mother

Dear Terrified: You and your husband should do everything possible to secure medical treatment (and mental health counseling) for her. If you can't afford to pay for a checkup, research her options under Medicaid (or other programs for low-income people) and encourage her to take charge of her health.

Eating disorders can be complex and challenging to treat. Do not deny or diminish this issue. If she has an eating disorder, you need to work as a team to either find ways to urge her into treatment, or cope with the sadness and anxiety of watching this depressed adult damage her health.

The National Eating Disorders Association has information and referrals on its website:

Dear Amy: My fiancé's parents and his adult brother like to visit us in "the big city" as often as possible. Their stays generally range from one to three days in length, but it is the frequency of the visits that bothers me.

His brother is typically at our house one to two weekends a month. He uses our place as a crash pad after a night of drinking. During the day he leaves a trail of messes that I am left to pick up after, including empty beer cans, dirty dishes, etc. After his visits I launder the sheets and towels.

On the opposite weeks, my fiancé's parents like to visit — from one to three times a month. They typically stay during the week, which is often disruptive to my heavy work schedule (and life in general) as we have to entertain them in the evenings.

Once again, I am responsible for laundering sheets and towels. I tried to make this the responsibility of my fiancé, but he is perfectly OK with dirty linens.

I have gently voiced my frustration to him. He says I'm being ridiculous and must accept this if I am going to live with him.

I work long hours, and I don't want to be responsible for hosting guests all the time. This issue is driving a wedge between us. I feel bitter and angry. What can I do or say to limit the number of visits his family makes?

— Prisoner in my own home

Dear Prisoner: You sound sweet, but this should be a deal-breaker for you. Your fiancé is obviously part of a family that does not care about the wants or needs of others. Their behavior is poor — at best — but his reaction to your reasonable concern is appalling.

I question your choice to marry someone who is so inconsiderate. If this is your home (as well as his), then you should have an equal say in who stays there, and how often. If he dismisses you, then you should speak directly with his family members.

At the very least, I suggest you go on strike over cleaning up after them. If the mess gets too frightening, stay elsewhere until your fiancé comes up with a workable solution.


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