DEAR ABBY: My son "Darren" is 13 and has been obese for several years. I have tried many ways to help him lose weight. He was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and uses a CPAP machine at night to help him breathe. Darren's doctors have told me it's extremely important that our whole family be included in lifestyle and diet changes in order to help our son.
My husband, Harry, however, refuses to be involved. He continues to bring home junk food and eat it in front of Darren and me. My son and I are going to an informational meeting about yet another program. I asked Harry to come with us. His answer was, "Why should I pay someone to tell me something I already know?" along with complaints about how hard he works and how he just wants to come home and not attend another meeting.
Harry says he supports us, but he doesn't give us any real, meaningful support. Actions speak louder than words. This has been going on for too long. I'm tired of his arrogance and denial concerning Darren's health. I have told Harry this and suggested counseling -- but he just blows me off. Any suggestions? -- CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
DEAR CAUGHT: Go ahead with the counseling without your husband. You are not the person caught in the middle here; your son is. His physical problems are life-threatening and he needs all the support he can get. Obesity is a family problem, and you and Darren need to understand why his father is deliberately sabotaging him.
It takes real effort to learn to make healthy food choices, prepare it in ways that may be different from how you learned to cook, and to present it in a way that is appealing. If your husband insists on bringing home junk food, you can't stop him. But he should not be allowed to eat it in front of you and your son. In order to accomplish what you must, you may need assertiveness training. And that's where the counselor comes in. Please don't wait. Start NOW.