Etiquette Questions, Answered: Tricky Conversations
How Do I Handle My Mother's Criticism of My Weight?
Q: My mom constantly makes remarks about my weight. When I order food, she’ll say, “Oink, oink.” She’ll also ask me when I went to the gym last. If I ask her to stop and tell her I’m not overweight (which is true), she claims I’m insecure. How do I deal with this behavior?
Greensboro, North Carolina
A: This is obviously your mother’s problem, not yours. That being said, she is your mother and therefore, by definition, your problem. You can’t simply stop seeing her as you would anyone else in the world who behaved like this.
So here’s a two-part plan. First tell your mom that her comments are making one of the people she loves most in the world (you) feel really, really bad. Tell her that, calmly, using those exact words.
If that doesn’t put a stop to her criticism, move on to phase two. When she starts oinking at you, express general concern. Say, “Mom, what’s wrong? You seem upset about something.” Point out that since you are not a large person, your weight cannot be the real cause of her distress. Add in the same concerned tone, “There must be another issue. What is it?”
Repeat this every time she makes a biting remark and you might get to the root of the problem. Or at least she should become conditioned, like Pavlov’s dogs, to avoid the subject. Woof, woof.
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