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Ask Amy: Laid-off daughter may be anorexic

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • August 3, 2013 - 2:00 PM

Dear Amy: Due to a job layoff last year, our 32-year-old daughter has been living with my husband and me. She recently returned to work but receives a low salary and no health insurance.

She has a gluten intolerance, which requires meals without wheat and other additives. She refuses to eat the difficult-to-find and expensive gluten-free meals I purchase, accept any money or use the microwave. The food she purchases is scant. She appears emaciated but is adamant that her weight is normal. She became irate when I voiced my concern.

My husband feels that as an adult she can make her own decisions. I believe that she is rebelling against her need to return home at her age. What can we do before she is hospitalized for anorexia?

Amy says: You and your husband should do everything possible to secure medical treatment (and mental health counseling) for her. If you can’t afford to pay for a checkup, research her options under Medicaid (or other programs for low-income people) and do everything possible to encourage her to take charge of her health.

Eating disorders can be complex and challenging to treat. Do not deny or diminish this issue. If she has an eating disorder, you need to work as a team to find ways to urge her into treatment, or cope with the sadness and anxiety of watching her damage her health. The National Eating Disorders Association has information and referrals on its website: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

Boyfriend in denial

Dear Amy: I’m a single mom in a serious relationship with a guy for almost three years. He’s very caring. I know he loves me a lot. He loves my daughter, too.

The problem is that he lives with his parents one hour away, and we only see each other once a week (but we talk on the phone every day). When we first met, he made a promise to me that after a year, if our relationship works out, we will get married. After two years I asked him about marriage, and he said he’s not ready. He is from a different background and religion. His family doesn’t know about me. He’s too scared to tell his parents about us. What should I do?

Amy says: Allowing a man to deny your existence to his family is bad enough, but allowing him to deny your daughter’s existence should stir an important maternal instinct in you. This is not healthy.

After three years of waiting for marriage, you should know in your bones that your guy will never be ready.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

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