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My Mom Always Calls Me Fat

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My mom always calls me fat. I'm just about to turn 13 and she and all my other family members always talk about me. But to be honest I'm not that big compared to other females at my school. Whenever she talks about me I just start crying inside. At night I cry myself to sleep. What should I do so she won't talk about me any more?

A: I am saddened that your mom and other family members have hurt you so much with their unkind words. As you know, from all the TV commercials and ads in magazines, there is a lot of pressure on women and girls to be thin. Many of your female classmates are on diets and may already have eating disorders because they have been told they are too fat.

Your mom might think that she is helping you by telling you that you are fat. She might be worried about your becoming unhealthy and overweight. But if those are her worries, she sure is going about helping you in the worst way possible, isn't she? I am sure that her unkind words to you about being fat came from her own fears and worries about her body. Is she overweight? Is she thin now, after losing a lot of weight? Was she an overweight child who was told she was fat by her family? Do you think that she has always placed too much importance on how good she looks? Maybe you could ask these questions and others, in confidence, to a trusted family member or friend. The answers might help you to understand why she has treated you so unkindly.

I would like you to write your mom a letter. Pour out your heart in it and tell her how much you hurt inside because of what she says about you being fat. Ask her why she would continue to say such things if she knows that saying them makes you feel ashamed, very sad and lonely. Talk to any family members that you trust about how you feel as well as your school counselor.

You should never have to hear such hurtful words from your own family. They need to know that they must respect your feelings and that they are hurting you deeply. Please write to me after you write your letter to your mom. Let's hope that your letter will help your mom see the light. I know that it takes courage to do the things that I asked but I know that you are brave enough to do them. I'll keep a good thought for you. Thanks for writing.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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