Think about how you will react if your child is fat. Over time, if you’re making it clear that you don’t want a fat son or daughter, well, your son or daughter may not be able to stop being fat. But your son or daughter can eventually choose to stop being your son or daughter. Imagine your adult child building a life with people who aren’t nagging about weight loss, or who can enjoy doing something physical without making it about weight loss, or who can eat a meal without it being about weight loss. Calling home? Not required. Spending time together? Optional. Listening to lame weight jokes? Optional.
There are certainly other issues that can cause this sort of distrust. It didn’t help that my parents’ reaction to my dating a woman was insist I not tell any other family members and then studiously not want to talk about her much less meet her. It didn’t help that my father drank large amounts of beer daily for the first 20 or 21 years of their marriage. A lot of things didn’t help. But it’s generally expected that drinking or rejecting a child’s sexuality is going to be harmful to the relationship. Giving kids shit for being fat is practically a requirement of “good parenting” these days.
My dad periodically asks why he can’t move in with my husband and I. Frankly? I don’t want to provide day-to-day care for him. I distanced myself for my emotional safety. I wouldn’t want him as a roommate, much less as a semi-disabled adult I’m caring for. My emotions are tangled on this, but my want is for him to live happily ever after … without needing me.