How it Feels to Have a Morbidly Obese Parent: A Letter From My Daughter

Jodi Davis and Kirstin

Lately, I keep wracking my brain to figure out how I can help morbidly obese people realize their condition doesn’t only affect them, but their entire family. I’ve become very frustrated as I try to come up with a solution to reach them, but for some reason the answer just isn’t clear to me.

I was morbidly obese for several years, so I know how it feels. I did everything possible to avoid people who wanted to talk to me about my obesity. I didn’t want to hear about it or read about it; in fact, I wanted everyone to just leave me alone. I wanted to stay hidden away – that’s where the morbidly obese belong, according to society, right? That’s how I felt, and I’m very aware that countless others feel that exact same way.

So that is where the problem lies. How can I help people when they refuse to connect with anyone about their obesity and don’t want to be seen in public? How can I help them learn that they can make a change and lose the weight if I can’t even contact them?

My oldest daughter, Kirstin thought it might help reach the unreachable if she shared how it felt for her as a young child with a morbidly-obese parent.

A Letter from Kirstin:

I was in fifth grade when I finally realized my mom wasn’t like all the other mommies. Even though in so many ways she was the best mother in the world due to her strong involvement in our lives through school, sports, talent shows, and the like, it was in fifth grade when I noticed my mother wasn’t normal; she was obese.

Once I noticed my mother was this overweight, it wasn’t long before I understood the disadvantages that came with that fact. I soon appreciated every day with her more and more because I had no idea how many days she might have left. It wasn’t like it was just her problem anymore, it was mine too. I would worry that her obesity would catch up with her. I couldn’t just put it in the back of my mind either because as a child, your mother is everything.

As a child of an obese mother, I just want you to know that if you’re overweight and you have children … they worry about it, and they worry about you.

They may not say they worry about it or even act like they notice, but I can promise you that they do. When you decided to have children, you made a commitment to do everything in your power to be there for them.

Also, know that if you’re overweight, you can’t compensate for it by helping at their school or buying them things. Nothing can compensate for the fact that your choices can leave them without a mother. What you may not understand is the reality that you can die from being overweight.

Is any food really worth not seeing your child walk on their graduation day or seeing them get married or holding their first child? If you had cancer, wouldn’t you fight for your life? You would seek help and do whatever’s necessary to stay alive. Obesity is no different. It’s hurting you and you really do have the choice … obesity is 100% curable. My mom did it and you can too.

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Photo credit: mmg1design 

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  1. My mother is obese.

    This letter, while hitting the nail on the head, does not even go into detail about how absolutely horrible it is to have an obese parent.

    I grew up with a single, obese mother. I am now 30 years old and married, and my mother’s obesity, and more importantly the health effects that come along with decades of being overweight, is currently the most stressful, worrying, and depressing part of my life and has even effected my relationship with my wife.

    And that isn’t to mention a childhood of missing out on things because my mother wasn’t physically capable of doing them.

    Even when I was planning my wedding, my mother’s obesity and ability to get around was my primary concern. What if the chair broke at dinner? As silly as it sounds, this would have been my biggest nightmare. Forget rain or anything else, this was my concern.

    Now, we are getting ready to have kids, and I have to deal with the fact that my mother cannot fly out and see us, cannot drive out to see us, and even if she could, she wouldn’t be able to get in our house because of the stairs. And even if she could get in our house, we wouldn’t let her watch her grandkids because she cannot even physically take car e of them, let alone lay down on the floor and play with them.

    My mother was a wonderful mother and a wonderful person. My father was never around, and my mother did the best she could for my brother and me. But she ignored her health, gave into her food addiction, and ballooned, and now, despite all she did for us in our younger years, she is absolutely destroying us.

    Because of her obesity, she developed lymphedema, and now even if she were to be serious about losing weight, her lymph nodes are destroyed, her legs are swollen up with water and horribly deformed, and there is no possibility of her ever being normal. Ever.

    And now, here I am… the worst Christmas of my life, trying to convince a once strong and independent woman that her extreme issues are hurting everyone around her. I have to deal with a depressed and suicidal obese mother who isn’t capable of doing anything for herself or anyone else besides eating. It has changed her personality into a mean, difficult, and always complaining person. She is toxic to be around, and thus most of the family avoids visiting.

    My biggest wish since I was a child was for my mother to be thin. I would think “someday, she will lose weight.” I knew she didn’t like when people talked to her about it, so I decided at a very young age to just be supportive and not talk about it, because I trusted that she would be healthy some day.

    Not talking to my mother is my absolute biggest regret of my life, and by the time I finally told her how much it had affected me, it was too late. The game is over now, we are just waiting for the clock to run out and hope she doesn’t call the game early. She did just admit she is planning on buying a pistol, and we all know it isn’t for self defense.

    ————————-

    If you are overweight, please, I beg you, from a son who loves his mom, make a change. Don’t do to yourself and to your children what my mother did. Take hold of your life because if you don’t, it will be too late, and your kids will be the ones to pay the price.

    It doesn’t matter how amazing of a parent you are, being obese will negate it all.

    But also remember, a lot of people out there are like me, and everytime we see you, we aren’t judging for you, we are cheering for you and hoping you can do it. And you can.

    So do it for all of us!

  2. Thank you for sharing, I’ve been searching for a while for kids who grew up in the same situation. I love her and appreciate what she has done, but I don’t get a chance to talk about how what she can’t do affects me. I grew up black-adopted in an all white family, so I already had people pointing out how different our family was as it is. It didn’t help the kids at school who would make jokes about it. As I got older I didn’t want her to come on field trips because of things like her not fitting on the school bus, or a seat at the imax wouldn’t fit her. I hoped that she would see those things as a reason to get in shape, but she couldn’t even do it for her kids.

    She did a lot of parenting from the couch infront of the tv, which built up a lot of resentment because it felt like my sister and I were doing everything while she sat there barking orders with her yelling/authoritarian/controlling parenting style. I think deep down she felt that because she couldn’t physically control us (ie: run after us when we were toddlers in the store) she took up yelling and instilling fear in us to never dare disobey her. There is unfortunate racial issues that made me resent her but that’s a whole other conversation titled “Black Children of White Parents.” She’d always ask us to go get thing after thing for her because her knees are under so much pressure. It’s literally a disability/reduced mobility and people always think about how someone in a wheelchair affects their loved ones, but no one thinks about how reduced mobility and movement affects children of obese parents.

    No one ever cares to think about how the kid feels because the fact is obesity is a medical condition, and medical conditions of one person affect the whole family. I’m sure as a way to help herself overcome insecurity she gave herself a confident attitude which is good but, it turned into a cocky arrogant, and self-centred. Her toxic confidence is very hard to deal with. She expects all men to fall at her feet and all women to look up to her in admiration. My mother is so bitter and judgemental about everyone else and their weight, because she’s projecting her problems.

    I always hoped she’d lose the weight as I got older, like she said she would so we could do stuff like bike, rock climb, hike, ski, we live in one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada so close to the mountains, a unattainable dream for a lot of people, but I missed out on a lot of family memories we could’ve made doing those things. Even if another family would offer to take me, my mom said no because she didn’t want to miss out, she did this a lot. Saying no to other parents taking me to do a fun activity, it’s sad that she felt she had to keep me from those things because she couldn’t do them with me , but at the same time it angers me because it feels selfish.

    As a kid I already envied adopted kids who shared a skin colour with their parents, and kids who lived with their biological parents. Adding parents that could actually do activities and play alongside their parents, set me up for a long childhood of comparing our family to other families. Obviously I understand families come in different colours and sizes, I’ve been forced to know that since I first looked in the mirror.

    There’s a comment above saying “I don’t like stuff like this. It’s hard enough being fat but having people use your kids against you is rude.” No one is using your kid against you, and if you think that’s what’s going on you’re completely ignoring the fact that obesity is an illness that affects those around them. We struggled with money a lot growing up with 1 parent, and my mother overshared about those financial problems. I watched her do frivolous things with her money, even falling for a nigerian money scam for 6 years. At 10 years old worrying about if she could pays the bills, and what would happen if she died due to her illnesses, and I inherited her debt, is not something any 10 year old should have to worry about.

    At the end all I can say is no one is trying to bring down obese parents, only trying to bring light to the issue of their children not having a safe space to talk about how it has negatively impacted their life. Because once again that’s a fact, it affects them whether you like it or not.

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