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<p>So MIL came for Thanksgiving, and she did a thing that she used to do fairly often, stopped doing, and now (sigh) has resumed. She pointed out someone at the zoo and started a whole long narrative about how that person was "morbidly obese" and how she (in her work owning a home-health company) "takes care of those people all the time" and how they're going to die, etc. etc. etc. All of it in a tone of hyper-criticism, devoid of compassion. <span><img alt="angry.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/angry.gif" style="width:16px;height:16px;"></span> I just said "hmmm" and waited for her to be done, then changed the subject. Which felt like a weak, cop-out response.</p>
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<p>For years I just would look at her blankly when she did this kind of thing and she finally figured out I wasn't biting. Now she's got the "health" soapbox to stand on (she has zero medical training and is not especially well-read or knowledgable in this area.) So it's apparently her thing, again.</p>
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<p>I don't want my kids hearing this; we often talk about how people of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. My mom wasn't so extreme when I was growing up as MIL is now, but she spoke often and critically about weight and bodies, and I just don't want my kids worrying about their weight, or feeling like other people's body shape and size is anything for them to be concerned about or judge. My kids are perfectly healthy and quite active, and eat a good, well-balanced diet.</p>
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<p>I don't need to (and can't) "fix" MIL - she's kind of mean and was raised by someone even meaner. But I could use some suggestions about how to respond to her without creating yet another conflict between the two of us (see politics, religion, etc...)</p>
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<p>Any ideas?</p>
 

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<p>My dad does this and it drives me crazy.  I know in his case he does it because his father is cruelly obscessed with people being slim, and sets the tone for his whole family.  Did I mention it makes me crazy?</p>
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<p>What I finally had to do with my dad is tell him point blank he was making me uncomfortable.  Which made him feel bad, but oh well.  However something like this would not work with my grandfather (who is incapable of admitting he is wrong, or that females have a right to an opinion) so when he starts up I either do blank stare or leave the room.  Thankfully he lives 3000 miles away and I only see him every other year anymore.</p>
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<p>Unfortunately that's all I've got.  Its a crappy feeling being in the company of someone so openly hostile towards others isn't it?</p>
 

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<p>That's so sad. I think obsessing is building your kids to have poor eating habits by being hyper aware that their bodies aren't "perfect". There was always slimfast and diet pills in my mom's cupboards and here I am fat as a brick. When she died I threw away buckets of old pills.made me so sad to think that she thought she wasn't pretty enough and died thinking that. I don't want my kids thinking that.</p>
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<p>I would also have recommended the uncomfortable dead silence when someone says something stupid to hopefully make them feel uncomfortable that they had opened their mouth. But apparently that isn't working. Or maybe drop out even the hm part.</p>
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<p>Perhaps a comment like children who overhear weight obsessed parents have a higher risk of having eating disorders and poor self esteem and pull out some statistic. She won't hear you the first time so just keep repeating it until she gets it and shuts up.</p>
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<p>"Binge eating disorders, food phobia, and body image disorders are also becoming increasingly common in adolescence." <a href="http://www.seattlechildrens.org/kids-health/page.aspx?id=65872" target="_blank">http://www.seattlechildrens.org/kids-health/page.aspx?id=65872</a></p>
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<p>"Eating disorders are serious clinical problems that require professional treatment by doctors, therapists, and nutritionists."</p>
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<p>"You can play a powerful role in your child's development of healthy attitudes about food and nutrition.</p>
<p>Your own body image can influence your kids. If you constantly say "I'm fat," complain about exercise, and practice "yo-yo" dieting, your kids might feel that a distorted body image is normal and acceptable."</p>
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<p>Trying to brainstorm quotes for you.</p>
 

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<div id="user_container">Birch LL, Fisher JO, Davison KK. <strong>Learning to overeat: maternal use of restrictive feeding practices<br>
promotes girls' eating in the absence of hunger</strong>. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.<br>
2003;78(2):215-220.</div>
<div> </div>
<div><a href="http://www.ellynsatter.com/resources/WDCGTMW.PDF" target="_blank">http://www.ellynsatter.com/resources/WDCGTMW.PDF</a><br>
 </div>
 

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<p>I think I would get on the topic....wow you are so worry about fat, but you know there are --find the statistic -- people with eating disorders.  I would think many of these people had major issues with fear of fat. There is a balance to being healthy.  We really have to be mindful of what we eat and say not to instill an over fear of fat.  I wouldn't want your grandkids to become anerexic or anything.  </p>
 

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Discussion Starter #6
<p>Thanks for the links! <span><img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="width:16px;height:16px;"></span></p>
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<p>I probably do need to make clear to her that it's an off-limits topic around my kids. My concerns are both that the kids not get started down the road of unhealthy self-criticism and that they not pick up the idea that it's ok to judge people on the basis of their weight (or sexual orientation, or race, or or or.) I am confident that if I pointed out that it's offensive to me and bigoted, the conversation would not go well, so taking the "I don't want the kids concerned about their weight or other people's weight" seems like the best strategy.</p>
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<p>Thanks for the insight. It's helpful to get a little reality check - yes, it's an awful thing to say! Yes, I can set a boundary there.</p>
 

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<p>Being who I am I'd probably say something along the lines of "Hey, for all you know that 'morbidly obese' person is healthier than you and will be taking care of you in 20 years".</p>
 
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