Ask Amy: Daughter worries about dad's eating

2014-07-12T00:00:00Z Ask Amy: Daughter worries about dad's eatingBy Amy Dickinson Tribune Content Agency Arizona Daily Star

DEAR AMY: I’m a 16-year-old girl. I’m worried about my dad. I think he may have an eating disorder (most likely anorexia).

He eats very little, often just an apple for dinner, logs his calories and often does high-intensity workouts. He’s worried about the possibility of gaining weight and sometimes tries to restrict our pets’ food too — though they’re healthy.

My mom has a healthy enough relationship with food, though she has felt pressure over the years as my dad engages in disordered eating. My younger sister and I are slowly realizing just how much this is harmful, and sometimes I’ve caught myself with an unhealthy preoccupation with my weight too.

What do I do? I want to talk to my dad about this somehow, but I have no idea how to do this. He’s very stubborn and focused, so getting him to change wouldn’t be the easiest thing to do. If my behavior with food becomes a problem, I’ll tell my doctor and try to get help. — Worried

DEAR WORRIED: It is not your job to police your father. Realistically, aside from registering your concern to him and your mother, there is little you can practically do to get him to change.

One concern is how this disordered eating is creeping into the rest of your household. If your father is truly limiting the pets’ food, then the pets should be placed in a safer environment. Unlike people, animals cannot always fend for themselves.

You should speak with both of your parents about this, not offering solutions but simply being honest about your concern. Start with this: “Dad, I’m worried about you.”

DEAR AMY: I’m sitting in a coffee shop next to a woman who has been on her cellphone the entire time, talking loudly and showing no respect for my privacy. I came in here to read and not be disrupted by someone invading my space. This is no longer relaxing and I am not ready to leave. Whose right is it? What should be done? —Linda in Michigan

DEAR LINDA: The person making the call isn’t respecting her own privacy. I think we’ve all listened to others reveal personal and business information through overhearing loud phone conversations.

I have had readers respond to me on this topic before, saying that they have written down overheard conversations and presented the transcript to the cellphone talker.

Some places have rules about cellphone use — if this place does, you should ask the manager to intervene. Otherwise, I think it’s acceptable to interrupt and ask the person: “Could you lower your voice, please? We can all hear you.”

DEAR AMY: I strongly disagree with the message you gave “Mike” about telling his 20-year-old daughter to move out of the house.

To me, she sounds depressed. Divorced family, messy room, mom doesn’t want her and, although she sounds justifiably annoying, her dad doesn’t want her either. All of this combined with her age and the stress of trying to manage her first job requires gentle support, not confrontation.

I would suggest therapy for dad and daughter to see if they can work it out before he does something that might have a lasting impact on their relationship. — Jenny

DEAR JENNY: A 20-year-old working part- time, partying and staying out all night doesn’t sound depressed to me, but I agree that therapy would be useful for father and daughter. Excellent suggestion.

DEAR AMY: I think you misread the letter from “Flummoxed,” whose 37-year-old daughter is three months pregnant. I think this mom was trying to come up with a way to suggest that her daughter have an abortion. I don’t know your views on abortion, but you should have addressed this in your answer. —A Fan

DEAR FAN: I am pro-choice. But “Flummoxed” said her daughter “wants the baby.” So suggesting a second-trimester abortion to a woman who wants to have a baby is strange and, I believe, not helpful at all.

Contact Amy Dickinson by email: askamy@tribune.com

Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook. Amy Dickinson’s memoir, “The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town That Raised Them” (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.

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