DEAR ABBY: I am writing out of concern for my husband "Marc's" 9-year-old daughter, "Rachel." She visits us every other weekend. The rest of the time she lives with her mother in the next town.
Rachel is extremely overweight. We've watched her put on 20 more pounds this summer. Friends and family members, with the exception of Rachel's mother, have also become concerned about her weight problem.
Marc and I are both health-conscious. We make every effort to eat properly and live a healthy lifestyle. When Rachel is in our home, we make sure she eats well-balanced meals, and we never bring junk food into our home. Our problem is, Rachel's mother sees nothing wrong with her daughter bringing along a supply of fattening snacks when she comes to stay.
Time after time, Marc has tried to talk to his ex-wife about this problem. She refuses even to acknowledge that there is one! We're very concerned. We want Rachel to develop healthy habits, and we're worried that the teasing will be even worse when she begins fourth grade in the fall. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated. -- WORRIED ABOUT OUR GIRL IN TEXAS
DEAR WORRIED: I'm assuming Marc's daughter has a pediatrician. If she doesn't, she should. As Rachel's father, Marc has the obligation to inform her physician about his daughter's weight gain and eating habits.
Perhaps the mother will be more receptive to supervising her daughter's diet when she hears from a doctor that her daughter is headed for trouble. If not, Marc should talk to his lawyer.
DEAR ABBY: "Anxious Daughter in New England" wrote that she had just discovered that her mother -- who is terminally ill with only weeks to live -- had placed a baby for adoption many years ago. She said that she felt an "urgent need" to locate that child before her mother dies, so they could meet. She said that her mother has periods of confusion but is lucid "some of the time," and family members are divided about whether a reunion would be good for her. "Daughter" asked for your opinion.
You advised her to "let go of the fantasy." What an insensitive response! I cannot fathom why you would respond that way to someone who is trying to give her mother closure.
Granted, she should consult the doctor regarding the possible consequences. But even if it isn't a good idea for the mother to have this, it IS important for that woman to know her sibling.
Please choose your responses with a more sensitive outlook, especially with such an emotional issue. -- PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK STATEWIDE ADOPTION REFORM
DEAR PRESIDENT: I am not against a reunion of the siblings. My concern was literally for the life of the mother -- the shock could kill the poor woman. It's significant that when the writer's mother was well, she had NOT expressed a desire to find the "secret" child she had placed for adoption. That's why I said, "Let go of the fantasy." While the majority of reunions are happy ones, I hear from people who tell me that not all are. I'm sorry if you and others were offended.
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