A Fourteen Year Old Overweight Daughter
David Johnson Says...
I'm impressed you've asked the question. Many parents muddle through this difficult topic without help and a wide range of outcomes.
By the age of 14, your daughter is her own person. She has learned most every basic coping mechanism. She relies on you primarily for economic and emotional support. She will decide on her own what her goals are, and work at them on her own, seeking support and help as needed. If it all goes wrong, she will seek emotional support somewhere. That is your role, the safe, non-judgmental adult she can talk to. She needs you to be someone who will listen, respect her opinions and only tentatively offer their own.
You see, you can't set a goal for her to lose weight. She has to do that herself. She has to decide that she's going to do the work. Within the next couple of years with all the peer pressures and unfolding puberty, she will likely do so. You can offer her your opinion on rare occasions, offer supportive comments, express interest and curiosity in her life, and be the safe source of support when it all seems to go wrong. Then you can encourage, nurture, and tentatively express an opinion. "Could it be?" "Maybe..." "I had that trouble once..." NOT "when I was your age...." That always feels like a putdown. Be gentle, respect that her opinions, priorities and goals are hers. Never try to impose your perspective, just respectfully disagree and let it go. Suggest she see a doctor to get started. Let her shop around for a doctor she likes.
Of course you will need to set age appropriate limits for her freedom and privileges. But do so in a nurturing way, never with anger or the dreaded "disappointment". Save that for the really big issues and pray that never happens.
But no, you really can help her lose weight. Not unless it's her goal and she manages how you help.There may be a few ways you can help without being too obvious. Limit how much junk food you buy and store in the house. Role model healthy eating and regular exercise. Organize family activities that burn calories. But never admit it's for her. Part of being a role model is that you'd do it anyway, even if she is not looking or participating. I wish you both all the best.
Page last updated Sep 19, 2013