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Sending my message across without being harsh

Discussion in 'General Substance Abuse Discussion' started by notodrugs, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    This is a bit long and complex. So I’m making it short for everyone and try to get to the gist of my story. All I want is advice on how I can get the message across to my friend whose son has addictions. Yes, he has two, but not with any substances. His is computer games and food addictions. It got worse when his parents started to have marital concerns. He seems to have rebelled and doesn’t show any sort of fear towards mom and especially to dad whom he used to obey more. Now, he has recently seen a Youth Counselor. He said his whole life right now is a mess, which is true, sad to say, especially for a 16-year old whose own life is already chaotic at this phase. So parents will follow next in the counseling session.

    In the meantime, I want to be more direct and forward with my friend. I already did actually. One is with her emotional eating habits. She is also overweight. Another thing I want to be upfront about her is her being stubborn. She sticks to what she knows best. She’s asking for advice but she isn’t really. She wants to hear what she wants to hear. Period. She blames her husband for what has happened to their son and vice-versa. That, I am totally keeping my nose off because I am not close to her husband. But I’ve given her an organization that caters to couples with serious marital problems. She did not heed it because she said husband won’t budge. I believe though, the roots of the son’s problems are caused by all these family issues. I’ve tried to be diplomatic and indirect by telling her something like it takes two to tango in marriage; an apple won’t bear an orange sort-of-lines. One time, I might just drop the bomb at her. My patience is running thin.
    Joseph likes this.
  2. Mackmax

    Mackmax Active Contributor

    Oh god, those people who pick and choose what they wan't to listen to can be very frustrating, so I feel your pain. The best way to get your point across without being harsh or a push-over is to be assertive, not aggressive. This can take work. This can be very difficult, since there is little difference between the two. Keeping your voice at an indoor level is a good start. Don't go rambling on an on, or else she may feel like you're just attacking her with words, and don't forget to let her speak.
    Also, use "I" messages. Instead of saying "You have an eating problem.", say "I believe you have an eating problem."
    "You" messages make it seem like you're blaming or attacking the person.
    Avoid phrases like:
    -Why are you always..?
    -Why can't you just...?
    These also make it seem like you're blaming the person.
    notodrugs likes this.
  3. Janie

    Janie Active Contributor

    That is hard. When you are on the outside, it is easy to assess a situation, but when you are part of it, it is so much harder to see clearly. So pointing out to her that her son may be affected by their fighting is something she may not have considered and it could be of help. She might be more willing to work on the marriage issues if she thinks she is helping the son.
    However with her weight issue... I really wouldn't mention it. I think anyone with a weight or eating problem is well aware of their problem. They are probably self conscious and down on themselves already, someone else pointing out that they can see they have a problem too will just make them feel worse. If you would want to help with this issue I would do it more indirectly, like telling her you want to start walking more and asking her to come, or showing her myfitnesspal and saying you use it yourself, etc. If that doesn't work then I would just leave that particular issue alone.
    notodrugs likes this.
  4. musicmonster

    musicmonster Senior Contributor

    I think an intervention would do at this point. Gather up all your other friends. This could help him wake up and realize what he's doing with his life.
    notodrugs likes this.
  5. jeremy2

    jeremy2 Community Champion

    Before we address the problems the son is facing,it will be imperative for us to find a lasting solution to the couples constant wrangles. Any effort to reform the boy would be an exercise in futility if the root causes are not addressed.The couple have to first sort out their issues for the kids to have a conducive environment for them to change.
    notodrugs likes this.
  6. OhioTom76

    OhioTom76 Senior Contributor

    You don't need to inform someone that they are overweight - anyone who is overweight already gets treated like crap 24/7 because of it. Believe me, you are not the only one with a "concern". I've been overweight for many years at a time throughout my life, and you see all the dirty looks, hear the smartass comments and talking behind your back, as well as have to listen to all the "advice" your friends try and give you.

    No offense, but you sound a bit condescending and judgmental towards your friend and her son. I don't think you would appreciate other people micromanaging you and your kids eating habits, as well as your kids recreational activities.

    It takes months, if not years to take off weight, especially if it's a considerable amount. Fat shaming someone does nothing to solve the problem, all you are letting your friend know is that you are more or less disgusted with her and her son in the meantime.
  7. emily0531

    emily0531 Member

    Unfortunately, we cannot tell others what to do, we can only make suggestions. I agree that using "I" statements instead of "you" statements is probably more effective. However, some people will only learn by figuring things out on their own, and although it is frustrating for you to observe, nothing that you say will change anything. Although your intentions are good, she may need to learn some things on her own. I would keep letting her know how you feel but be at peace with not expecting much to change until she is ready.
    notodrugs likes this.
  8. missbishi

    missbishi Community Champion

    It's really frustrating isn't it. It is obvious that the boy has turned to gaming to escape his everyday life and is overeating for comfort. I know that you are not "fat shaming" and that you are posting here out of concern, rather than just wanting to make judgements. However, things aren't likely to change until your friend is ready to change her habits. This might never happen, so like emily0531 says, maybe you need to accept this. How would you feel about inviting your friend to take some regular exercise with you? Nobody ever regretted exercising and it might even be a good example to the boy. If all else fails, you may have to start giving her a wide berth (no pun intended) for a while.
    notodrugs likes this.
  9. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    Hi Mackmax. I surely can't do the blaming or attacking on her. She's a really strong character. Most of the time, she does the talking. Honestly, at times, I do not care to understand anymore what she's saying as I can't focus and I get lost at her litany of words and sentences.

    The only thing I got so direct with her was when I saw her eating the condensed milk from a tube before the Christmas holiday and she laughed at my reaction. But I am glad she's eating healthier after the holidays. I praised her for doing that and I hope she'll stick by it. She's done a lot of diet plans already. Every time, she just goes back to her eating habits.

    Thanks for your advice. I'll try it on her. I get what you mean by being assertive san the aggressiveness. I'll get her when she's a bit more reflective perhaps and subdued.
  10. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    Hi Janie. First off, her son already has a problem with his studies even before the marital rift happens. She knows that her son got worse when it started so she knows their quarrels affect the child. Her husband blames her and vice versa. She told her husband to try marriage counselling but he didn't want to. So my suggestions about that just couldn't work. Secondly, you're right that she's aware she's overweight. I already got direct with her about her emotional eating not her being overweight. She knows it because she's been on a yoyo weight for years now so she's tried several diet plans. Now, I'm glad she's eating healthier and is into another diet. I praised her for that as I always did with the several other diets she had before. She knew I was so happy for her the time she lost a lot of weight. So when I got direct with her, I knew she would see that I didn't mean to insult her but that I was talking as a true friend.
  11. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    I can't do that musicmonster, unfortunately. In our workplace, there are just two of us who know about what's happening to her personal life. I suggested for her to confide to another friend who has more wisdom and can pray together with her, but she refused. :-(
  12. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    Exactly my sentiment jeremy2. I can see that my friend is open to having marriage counseling and other helpful marriage interventions but her husband isn't. He won't budge. He just keeps on blaming her for whatever situation they're in right now. But another thing I am concerned about is how my friend (and yes, her husband) is behaving in front of her kids. I mean, more often than not, kids just adopt the behavior they see from their parents. My friend is stubborn so is the son. My friend has eating problems so is her son. But at least, now, again, she's trying to eat healthy. So hopefully, her son will follow.
  13. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    Oh no, I did not tell her she's overweight. That's one thing I don't do to people. I think you misunderstood my post. Please read it again.

    I won't go on defending myself. I am asking for advice on how to tell her without being harsh that her behavior like her eating habits and stubbornness affect her son's behavior. These are the problems she has with him. He does not do what he's asked to do, keeps playing computer games until the wee hours of morning and has been off school several times because he couldn't get up the next day. He's not following his parents anymore, playing in front of them without fear. He has health problems like high blood sugar and he's only 16. That's why my friend has been preparing healthy meals for her son, only to find out later on that the boy buys junk and sugary food outside the school. And he secretly kept two boxes of chocolates in his room and ate them all up in just a few days. Apparently, the family keeps it healthy for the boy but they've been storing and eating such food at home even at work (just like what my friend does). But after I saw her eating condensed milk and being direct with her about it before the Christmas holiday, I'm glad that now, just after the holiday, she's eating healthy again. So hopefully, her son will follow suit.
  14. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    Thanks for your confirmation of what I can do emily. It's true I can only suggest. However much I'd like to be more direct with her, I'd rather not. I thought that maybe when she started eating healthy again after the holidays, maybe she got herself thinking that what she'd been eating before was really unhealthy. I praised her for eating that. I know she knows my intentions are good for her and for her son. When she lost so much weight before, she saw how happy I was with her progress. But for now, I'll choose my battles. :)
  15. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    I am definitely not fat shaming. I just want advice on how I can send my message to her without being harsh. Lots of things already happened in our friendship that proved my concern for her and her family. Maybe that's the reason why she told only me and another friend. But I find us having the same conversation and the same problem over and over again. The thing is I know exactly why it's happening. But now, I'm glad she's eating healthy again and I praised her for that. She knows I only mean well. I do hope the son will see the change in his mom's eating habits and follow suit.

    I did try inviting her to exercise with me. But she has hip problem and the doctor told her to do swimming but for some reasons, she never did it. She has a mind of her own. She has her own ways. That's one problem with her. When she sets her mind on something, she's all for it. But when she doesn't like something, that's the end of the story. Well, she can be told but she won't listen. This is what I see happening with her son. Even before the marital issue, her son already has school and weight problems that have just gotten worse due to his parents' rift. Poor boy, really. That's why I get frustrated with my friend at times. But I know she's been to a lot of stress already. I'm just hoping and praying she and her family will get by this crisis successfully.
  16. MrsJones

    MrsJones Community Listener Community Listener

    It sounds to me like you (notodrugs) need to step away for a while from your friend. It seems like you have made her problems your own and with that, you can't doing anything about it. It's good to be a listener but sometimes you don't see how it is really affecting you.

    If you really want to be straight and not offensive with your friend then just tell her you really don't want to hear about what is going on with her personal life OR lie, make up an excuse to leave once she starts confiding in you.

    Bow out....
    notodrugs likes this.
  17. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    I agree with you, Mrs. Jones. As I re-read my post and the answers I got, I begin to think that maybe I need to give myself a break from her concerns. I supposed all she really wants is for me to listen. But I can't take it that way because of her son who's negatively affected by their family circumstances. Yet, I've started distancing myself. Maybe she also needs that time alone to reflect on her own.
  18. MrsJones

    MrsJones Community Listener Community Listener

    notodrugs, you can always enjoy spending time with the young man. He can probably use a 'big brother' or a role model.
  19. notodrugs

    notodrugs Community Listener Community Listener

    I am not so sure about this Mrs Jones. He looks at me as an authority figure like a mom since I am the same age as his mom. He and my daughter are in the same year level in the same school. I've told my daughter to help him out if he needs to but he appears tough. They're not even in the same social circle. Though I am quite pleased that he told his mom that only two girls in his year level really talk to him nicely; one is my daughter. He has a young male teacher to whom he talks most of the time. So my friend talked to this teacher except about the marital rift. The young man did not heed this teacher's advice to stay in school after a scheduled early home time. He walked from school to their house looking angry when he wasn't even scolded by the teacher. I guess he didn't like it that his mom talked to him in the first place. A really delicate issue to tackle. So I am just waiting for the Counselor he has seen last year to do a follow-up session with the parents.
  20. MrsJones

    MrsJones Community Listener Community Listener

    Well now, mom talking to someone that he has begun to even trust can be a downer. I can understand that he probably wants to have someone he can talk to about things and not have his parents involved (his little secret).

    In all honesty, all children should look at adults as an authority figure. Maybe with less visits to their home will change that. Right now you know too much about what's happening.
    notodrugs likes this.