My daughter is 20, healthy and active, outgoing with a usually big smile. She’s always enjoyed sports, and getting together with her long-time friends until last year when she started dating a guy who’s four years older than her.
He’s pursuing a definite goal for his future career in business, and seems to us, her parents, to be trying to “change” her. This is worrying us.
As returning to school loomed ahead in late August, she started mulling over her clothing and where she should purchase “going out” clothes. I commented that I thought she’d already bought several very nice items, but she quickly said, “No, Mom, they don’t fit any more, I need to lose weight.”
The next surprise was her return from a hairdresser with a shorter, stylized cut, and a Mani-Pedi which she’d never before fussed much about, because of her frequent athletics.
My husband asked directly: “Has this new guy you’re dating said you need to change how you look? Because if he did, he’s not for you.”
My daughter ran out of the room crying. I said, “We just want to know what’s going on that calls for changes... to us, you’re already perfect.”
She asked us to just “back off” and trust her. She likes this guy, so she’s often with his similar-age friends whose girlfriends (and one guy’s fiancée) are more sophisticated and stylish than her.
We’ve now recognized that she’s lost weight... maybe just six pounds, but it shows.
We know she’s basically a very smart young woman but fear that this boyfriend directly, or indirectly, pressures her to make these changes.
But, as you often say to your readers, “She’s an adult, and entitled to make personal decisions on her own.”
So how can we help her recapture her self-confidence and follow her own best instincts, rather than comply with this man’s decisions for her?
Yes, she’s an adult, but a young one. So, it’s natural, since she’s dating within an older group, that, currently, she wants to “fit in.”
I understand your concern, I’d worry too if she not only changes her wardrobe, but worse, her sense of self-esteem.
The weight issue can also become problematic. If he’s controlling her changes, this could also become problematic.
The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) provides information, referrals and support to people in Canada affected by eating disorders. And women in their early 20s are most at risk.
Invite her boyfriend to meet you and your husband when there’s a school break. You’ll gain a better sense of how he communicates with her. Above all, support her with your love, and if her weight loss increases, encourage her to seek medical and counselling help.
FEEDBACK Regarding the wife fearing a move to the U.S. for her husband’s job (Aug. 25):
“Speaking as a child of a father who found himself in the same position, I say DON'T RISK IT! We were a close family before my dad took a position that was a big promotion and paid a lot more, but stationed him in the U.S. while we stayed in Canada.
“I could see how my parents' relationship deteriorated. They ended up married for 71 years, but were never again as close and loving as they were before the move.
“I know Dad's relationship with us was forever damaged. Now that both parents are gone, it was nice we all received a nice inheritance, but I would rather have had the family we once had. It was worth much more than the money.”
We met teaching in a small town, and have been friends for 50 years. We moved back to the city, and shared an apartment for several years until she moved in with a beau who subsequently left her.
She’s had some bad relationships. Her husband of 15 years passed away unexpectedly 18 months ago. I called her every day. She was forced to move to a seniors’ apartment as her health is poor.
I visited months ago and we had a great time catching up. She never invited me back. We talk frequently on the phone.
I’m going to her city and suggested we meet for lunch. She declined because of poor balance and breathing problems. But there’s a restaurant in her building that delivers.
You’re kind and caring but your long-time friend now has mobility and health issues that worry and embarrass her, which she didn’t want you to see. Forgive her.
Tip of the day:
Young adults undergoing changes to please a dominant partner should boost their self-esteem.