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How would you deal?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I just got a distressing email from a friend of mine who is dealing with her 13 year old son. She had recently gone on a drastic diet and lost a lot of weight.Today, she finds out after a fight with her son, that she has been the subject of her son and his friends conversations in the past- being referred to as a "pig...whale..."and various uncomplimentary titles, and that he was "embarassed by her and having her in his life!" They continued to fight and argue and imagine her surprise in finding out that he is now still embarrassed of her BECAUSE she lost the weight! He told her his friends mention it all the time, and say stuff like "Gee your mom isn't a pig anymore" or I don't know how she managed to MOOOOOOve that weight.."

My response won't be put here, but I would be livid if I had a son and he showed such disrespect to me. But I don't have kids and don't feel qualified to give out advice. I do know a lot of people who have been heavy and have lost weight for one reason or another on the boards, especially recently. Perhaps they are lurking and can offer their $.02 about it? But how would you handle it? She hasn't told her husband yet, but she plans to.
post #2 of 21
I don't have kids, but it sounds like he needs to learn to stop judging people by their appearance & learn to respect others for who they are & not what they look like...

and that's aside from the fact that this is his own mother! Perhaps someone with a background in psychology or counseling could offer some productive ways to get through to him.

BTW congratulations to her for losing the weight - I'm sure it was tough, and she deserves a big hug for acheiving it!
post #3 of 21
I don't have any kids either, but when I think back to that age, me and almost all of my friends were ashamed of our parents. For whatever reason- being an obnoxious teen, that is. And if the boy's friends are using his mother's weight (or losing it) as a way to bully him or tease him, he is probably just taking it out on her. At that age, even if your friends are treating you badly, you may defend them and say nothing is wrong- just to have someone to call a friend, and of course you have to turn it around so that the friends are right, and take out your own bad feelings on someone else. Have no idea if something like that is going on around here, but what you said about his friends rang some bells.

As for what to do, I have no idea. Obviously the boy needs to learn his lesson, but how to go about it, no clue. Kids that age are often not very good at listening or reasoning, otherwise he'd realize that losing weight is a great thing, and nothing for his friends to go on about like that.
post #4 of 21
I also do not have any kids, but I have to say that I am shocked at this behaviour!

Thinking back to when I was that age, and my mother had a weight problem (that I have inherited) and I said some horrible things about her. Looking back, I feel horrible about saying anything, but it was during the rebelious stage of being a teen and beginning to develop an independence from my parents. That doesn't excuse it, though. However, I NEVER said anything like that to Mom's face! I would have been slapped into next week if I had ever said anything so hurtful to my mother (and I did not grow up in a violent household). Regardless of how cruel we were outside of the home, we were brought up to respect our parents. Deep down I didn't mean those aweful things I said, and now I wish I could take them all back.

As for what to do, my first inclination would be to ground the boy for talking to his mother like that, and forbid those nasty friends of his from coming over to her home if they are going to disrespect her like that. No one is allowed to talk to or about me in that way in my own home, period. If that makes life less enjoyable for the son, so be it, but there has to be respect for other people within the home, and that includes guests.
post #5 of 21
Wow, noone has kids
I would never dream of talking ill of a person behind their back, especially my mother! Those friends of his are probably a bad influence, so Id suggest not allowing them around (although that probably won't work because they can always meet up at school). Its a start anyway. I think hes just a little immature for his age, and he should grow out of it... eventually.
Well I can't really say how I would respond to it, because Ive never been in that situation.

post #6 of 21
I do have a son and he is 15 years old . No I am not over weight , but my husband is over weight . I never ever have herd my son talk like that to us aboud his dad being over weight . I think he would be in the hospital or dead if he would have talked like this . I am speechless how that nose wipe of a child can talk so disrespectful (sp) of his own mother . My guess is that it must have bin some years ago where something happen in his life and maybe it is a protection for him self . I really don't know . My son has a friend and his mother is over weight . I tell you what , if any body would say something to this friend of his over weight mother .... that would be it , I know he would knock that person into yesterday or maybe into next week . But nobody would say something bad about his mother . I also know that my son is very protective about me . I know , b/c somebody said something ugly aboud me and my son were beeting him up and that was the end of it .Saying all that make me think that maybe there is more then just the over weight issue . I would go to a counseler and sort that all out while he is still that young . If she waits , it may get worse later on in life .
post #7 of 21
Oh that saddens me. No I don't have kids but anyway...

Sometimes I like to tease about my mothers weight but she knows I'm only joking, and she's not overweight anyway. But If I said anything like this to her , to her or behind her back I know she wouldn't get absuvie but would just be very upset. I had a thought that maybe the boys friends are bagging his mother and just to "be cool" he is going along with it. If I was the mother of that child I would be extremely upset and hurt. I feel sorry for you're friend but also happy for her, for loosing weight. She's definitly in my thoughts.
post #8 of 21
IMO there is a need for a mother-son dialogue. Lock them both up in a room if you have to and find out why the boy is so ASHAMED of his own mom. I don't think the weight thing is the problem. Those two need to communicate about how they feel about each other AND they must LISTEN to what the other has to say.
post #9 of 21
I also don't have kids, but i dont need them to know that i would have 'never' spoke to my mother in such a way!.

I work with a girl who is a single parent to two boys, aged 14 and 13, and i have heard the way they speak to her at times, and it shocks me!.

Like a lot of kids, they need a lesson in showing respect!.

post #10 of 21
This story makes me want to run to my mom and hug her! I *hated* my mother when I was a teen but never in a million years would I make fun of her, or allow others to make fun of her in my presence.

If I found out my kid was doing that, I would NOT punish him for it. There are obvious problems in their relationship and I would work on that and let rest follow.

I don't know why anyone would make fun of someone for losing weight. It sounds like his friends aren't that bright.
post #11 of 21
I was just thinking... this reminds me of the movie What's Eating Gilbert Grape. His mom was severely obese and he made fun of her. He even held up kids in town to peer through the window and gawk at her.

If I remember correctly (it's been a while since I saw this movie) it wasn't her weight that bothered Gilbert, it was that he blamed her for his father leaving/dying.
post #12 of 21
I don't have kids, but I can tell you what would have happened to me if I ever dared to act that way. My mother would have slapped my face, in front of my friends if they were there when this happened, the friends would have been made to leave immediately (and would never be allowed back without a sincere apology), I would have been grounded and my telephone privileges taken away for a month, and my mom would be on the phone to the friends' parents to let them know what had happened.

And IMO, that is how the situation should be dealt with. I would not tolerate that sort of behavior for one minute!

That is not to say that I never made any disparaging remarks about my parents to my friends as a teen. I just never would have had the gall to do it to my parents' faces. It is first of all a matter of respect, but also children should have a little "fear" of punishment from their parents. Take away TV, phone or computer privileges. Take away "toys" like cel phones, video games, etc. I always was a little afraid of getting my mom mad at me; I knew she would never, ever hurt me (a slap on the face is the worst I ever got) but I knew if I did something wrong and she found out, I'd have to deal with the consequences.
post #13 of 21
A couple of years ago, my sister lost a significant amount of weight and found some pretty interesting reactions.

People treated her totally differently, as if when heavy she was not worth talking to, but when thin, everyone wanted to be her friend. She was terribly upset by the whole thing.

It wasn't just that people were congratulating her on her weight loss, but people that previously wouldn't go out of their way to say hello to her were now trying to becomes friends and hang-out (and I'm talking about Aunts/Uncles and cousins, not opposite-sex "interested" parties).

Now, she's gained the weight back and people are back to their old selves.

post #14 of 21
There is a book called "Fattitudes" that I've been meaning to pick up since reading an excerpt from it in Fitness magazine. It addresses the issues of weight loss and how peoples' attitudes towards you can really affect you.

Fostermom28 - your sister's experience sounds a lot like one of the ones that was in the article I read, that's too bad since losing the weight is so hard to begin with. A friend of mine lost a lot of weight (50 lbs.), and now "concerned" people ask her if she's sick, or perhaps has developed an eating disorder, and these are people in her church!! She looks great, but these comments really make her feel bad since she worked so hard to curb her eating and incorporate working out into her already full schedule.
post #15 of 21
If I spoke to my mum that way she'd go NUTS! The only thing I could think of was that his mum isn't the problem, something else is bothering and the only way he can deal with it is to act out against his mum. I had a similar problem with my younger brother, whenever things got too much for him I was all the 'fat cows' going. In my brothers case the problem wasn't hard to find and as he got older he started talking to me about his problems rather than taking them out on me.
post #16 of 21
I don't have biological kids ("my kids" are my nieces, nephews and students), but I wouldn't overreact - kids, particularly boys, can be really horrid at that age. He's rebelling, in a very hurtful way, and the best reaction might be a short one ("You kids are SO young and IMMATURE - you simply have no idea"). She shouldn't give him any "ammunition"; if he knows what he says really devastates her, he'll continue, probably till he's out of his teens. A friend of mine was having trouble with her son, who together with his friends was making his slightly overweight sister the butt of their jokes. She decided he needed to learn some empathy, and threatened to cut off his allowance completely unless he did some volunteer social work. He ended up spending a couple of hours a week helping out in a home for severely disabled children. You wouldn't believe the difference it made. He actually enjoyed it, and still says it gave him a different perspective on what's important in life.
post #17 of 21
Originally posted by yayi
IMO there is a need for a mother-son dialogue. Lock them both up in a room if you have to and find out why the boy is so ASHAMED of his own mom. I don't think the weight thing is the problem. Those two need to communicate about how they feel about each other AND they must LISTEN to what the other has to say.
This was my reaction as well. When I was young, probably around 10, my mother had a brief drinking problem. (She was already somewhat crazy, and this didn't help matters.) I still recall going on a church outing to some amusement park, where my mother became inebriated. (I don't recall the circumstances: whether some of the adults had gone to a restaurant at the place, or if alcoholic beverages were brought along by the group: we went there by chartered bus, so that wasn't such an issue.) I overheard some of the other women making comments about her, and was totally humiliated by the situation, wishing more than anything that she was not my mother.

It's easier to criticize someone for alcohol abuse than for being obese, at least in some circles. You didn't mention how much weight your friend lost: being 50 pounds overweight is quite different than 150 pounds overweight. I don't find it inconceivable that her son was embarassed by his friends' comments about her, especially as a 13 year old boy. He would not be thinking of the impact of these comments on his mother: he would be reacting to the impact of the comments on him. If he was a 20 year old, such comments more likely would have driven him to anger, but a 13 year old, with all the attendant peer pressure, might have found it emotionally easier to join in rather than to try to defend her.(For all she knows, the other boys might have been repeating versions of things their own mothers said about her.) I don't have kids but I have the impression that many teenagers are embarassed by anything their parents do. If her son told her these things during an argument, I bet he has at least in part been angry with her for some time for being the 'source' of his embarassment, even if a more mature (and I believe likely quite a bit older) son might have reacted differently. IMO, a discussion between him and his mother about how this impacted both of them is what's warranted, not some sort of punishment of the child.
post #18 of 21
Kids will be kids IMO. I feel for her but at the same time there's really nothing she can do about him except pray that in a few years he will realize what he did and let her know how sorry he is.
post #19 of 21
I like the volunteering idea.

It would probably be good for him to get to know others in different situations outside of his normal peer group...help him learn more empathy and more concern for others' feelings.

I didn't get along with my mom as a teenager either, and at times almost hated her, but always underneath I still loved and respected her, and would NEVER have made fun of her appearance. We were raised not to make fun of ANYONE's appearance, and never to gossip - that it can really cause hurt.

A child must be taught compassion and empathy to become a caring adult. I've met many teens who've volunteered with disabled or less fortunate children, and it seems to have done a lot to help them become more mature & caring people...something our world could definitely use!
post #20 of 21
I don't have kids either, so I may be way off base here.

Its tough for young boys. If he had said, "Mom, you are such a pig", or something, then yes, I would think he was way way out of line. But he was apparently dealing with some insensitive friends, and at that age, they are desperate to fit in. And I do think that the most sensitive and wonderful child will not be able to say "stop talking about my mother like that!" Imagine what those kids would call him then! "momma's boy" is probably the mildest of it.

He is embarassed. He can't help it. Kids are talking about his mother. He would be equally as embarassed if they said, woo, your mom has a really hot body! And I can guess that the mom is also very sensitive about the whole weight thing too. They need a really sincere heart to heart talk, he needs to know how badly he hurt her feelings, but not in a confrontational angry way.
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys, just to update, my friend had a family conference and after awhile it became clear that her son is upset with her not for losing weight, but for smoking. She has tried to quit, but when we were growing up, smoking was "cool" and everyone did it. It has her quite in the grips now. Perhaps this is the catalyst that was needed for both of them to come to terms with coming of age in today's society. Her son clearly wants her in his life for as long as possible and smoking shortens that time span a great deal. She is going to the doctor to quit this week. Thanks again, I sent her this link and she thinks all of you are the best!
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