DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My daughter gained a lot of weight during her pregnancy and has been struggling to get back to her pre-pregnancy body. I think she’s done a fantastic job, and except for a little extra around her mid-section, she looks to me like she’s got her figure completely back.
Because she was heavy as a child, she has always been sensitive about her appearance, even after she toned up and slimmed down once she got through puberty.
Her body image hang-up is now threatening to affect our annual family beach vacation plans. She told me the other day that she can’t face the extended family, “looking the way she does.” She refuses to even consider a tankini or other style of bathing suit that would be less revealing, and I reminded her that there’s so much more to the vacation than just the couple hours a day we usually spend on the beach.
I can’t help but worry that there’s more going on than just her unwillingness to put on a swimsuit. I have tried talking to her, but she just tells me that missing one family vacation is not the end of the world.
How hard do you think I should push the subject? This is one week when we all get together, my five children and their spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends, and my sister and her family. It means a lot to me to have everyone together. --- MORE THAN BEACH TIME
DEAR MORE THAN BEACH TIME: Since there is, as you say, more to a beach vacation with family than the hours spent on the beach, it might be worth your asking your daughter, in a gentle, general way, if something beyond her not hitting her weight loss goals is preventing her from wanting to be part of the annual tradition. For instance, depending on how long ago she had her baby, it’s possible she’s still coping with all the changes that come with parenthood. Or, there could be other completely unrelated causes for her wanting to skip the trip.
If she pushes back and makes it clear she doesn’t want to discuss her reason for opting out right now, it would probably be best to back off and give her some time and space.
As much as I can appreciate your wanting to have the family gathered together, it isn’t always possible, and as you’ve most likely already figured out, traditions and expectations eventually become more fluid as time goes on and circumstances change for your clan.