Ad­vice from read­ers on rais­ing chil­dren and rec­og­niz­ing oth­ers’ weight loss

The Washington Post Sunday - - MUSIC - Carolyn Hax Another Carolyn Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@wash­ Get her col­umn de­liv­ered to your in­box each morn­ing at­post. 3Join the dis­cus­sion live at noon Fri­days at wash­ing­ton­pos

While I’m away, read­ers give the ad­vice.

On par­ents who feel that “all we do is rush around”: A lot of us feel that. Be sure the kids are do­ing the ex­tracur­ric­u­lars they truly en­joy, and not just be­cause ev­ery­one else is do­ing it.

Then, fo­cus on truly be­ing present wher­ever you are. If you trust the child­care/school sit­u­a­tion, then to­tally fo­cus on work when you’re at work. If you are with the kids, then to­tally fo­cus on them. Put down the cell­phone.

If you feel good about be­ing with your kids when you are with them, and if you pay at­ten­tion to them, then THEY will re­mem­ber YOU. We’re do­ing what we are all sup­posed to do— to work to sup­port a fam­ily we love.

Try­ing to Take My Own Ad­vice I have worked my chil­dren’s en­tire lives. (I got two whole weeks off when my old­est was born.) When I was mar­ried, my hus­band had a hard time keep­ing a job. Af­ter we di­vorced, he had an even harder time mak­ing child­sup­port pay­ments. So quit­ting was never an op­tion for me. I wor­ried that I was miss­ing the im­por­tant parts of their lives. To add in­sult to in­jury, the job that kept food on the ta­ble and a roof over their heads in a de­cent school dis­trict also in­cluded travel. My ca­reer pri­or­ity was mov­ing up into a po­si­tion that wouldn’t re­quire as much travel, and I worked like a dog to get there. But I wor­ried ev­ery step of the way about the cost.

Fast­for­ward to my youngest’s fresh­man year in col­lege. She called one day, in tears, to thank me for be­ing a work­ing mom! She said that learn­ing to jug­gle classes, or­ga­ni­za­tions, an apart­ment, a room­mate and new­found free­doms had her ap­pre­ci­at­ing just how much I man­aged to ac­com­plish while she was grow­ing up. She said she knew it was hard but that I al­ways made it look easy to her and, most of all, I never missed any­thing im­por­tant. She said she was fol­low­ing my ex­am­ple by set­ting pri­or­i­ties, or­ga­niz­ing her time in ad­vance and re­mind­ing her­self that not ev­ery­thing has to get done. She was think­ing how lucky she was that she had a mom who taught her how to do all of this and just thought she ought to let me know. At that point, we were both in tears.

With clear pri­or­i­ties, you can be there for the im­por­tant things, and your kids will let you know what is im­por­tant.

K. On giv­ing com­pli­ments when some­one loses a dra­matic amount of weight: Fat woman here. I’m 57. I gained a lot of weight in my teenage years, mostly from emo­tional eat­ing re­sult­ing from sex­ual abuse in mid­dle school. (In ret­ro­spect, I was partly, un­con­sciously, try­ing to hide my curves, blam­ing them for what my abuser did to me.) By the end of col­lege, I weighed about 200 pounds. Over six months, I lost 50 pounds and was the slimmest of my life. All of a sud­den, new peo­ple started talk­ing to me, in­clud­ing co­work­ers who never gave me the time of day. Peo­ple I walked by ev­ery day who had averted their eyes and who I as­sumed were un­friendly all of a sud­den com­pli­mented me on the weight loss and struck up con­ver­sa­tions in the el­e­va­tor.

Fast­for­ward a year, and I put the weight back on. Lots of rea­sons, mostly that I had not learned new cop­ing skills and the new at­ten­tion from men and women was ter­ri­fy­ing. I didn’t want to be seen that much! And I hated the re­al­iza­tion that all of the time they DID see me, they just saw me as un­wor­thy of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion be­cause all they could see was my fat, not my per­son.

I’ve yoyo’d up and down for 10 years, ev­ery time get­ting the same re­sult of sud­denly be­ing wor­thy of be­ing treated like a hu­man. If you are read­ing and are in­clined to be kind to peo­ple in the process of los­ing weight, how about just be­ing kind to peo­ple of all sizes and shapes?

Anony­mous On the fear of rais­ing nerdy kids: I aman in­cor­ri­gi­ble nerd, and the child of sim­i­larly un­apolo­getic nerds. My cousins are def­i­nitely nerds, and so are my broth­ers. The last time my youngest brother and I were in a car to­gether, we spent maybe five to 10 min­utes per­form­ing the yo-momma fight from “Ro­bot Chicken Star Wars” and the rest of the time dis­sect­ing anime. I love hav­ing this com­mon ground with my fam­ily.

My par­ents de­lighted in our end­less odd­i­ties and, though we come from a strong­willed fam­ily to be­gin with, I think we are stronger be­cause of their sup­port. My weirdo broth­ers and I were never taught to pan­der to the “pop­u­lar” masses; we were told from the start there was no shame in be­ing our­selves. I think this is a mes­sage more kids need to hear.


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