Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My daughter was extremely active in high school. When she went to college, she decided not to play any sports at all (due to high school burnout). After her freshman year she put on several pounds, but she maintained that weight until this past year. I think she is now about 40 pounds overweight. She doesn’t complain about it until a piece of clothing doesn’t fit. In general she seems OK with it. I have encouraged her to work out (I got her a sports club membership) and to be active. My husband and I are very active and ask her to join us when we walk, etc., but she doesn’t seem to want to do it on her own. I know by comments she is making that it is affecting her self-esteem, but anything I might advise when the topic comes up puts her on the defensive. I understand, as I struggled with my own weight when I was in college, and I know it doesn’t help to say anything. I also don’t want her to develop any eating disorders, but at about her age I did start to figure out “calories in, calories out,” and she seems not to care. She is such a beautiful person inside and out, but I worry that her weight will affect her health. Any suggestions, or should I just keep my mouth shut? — Worried Mom
DEAR MOM: If you know from your own experience that it doesn’t help to say anything to a person who is overweight, then why do you keep talking to your daughter about it?
Your daughter knows she is overweight. She is a former athlete, her clothes are tight, and she lives in America, where we are all surrounded by nonstop reminders of how fat we are.
I realize how disturbing this can be for a parent, especially someone who, like you, has struggled with her own weight.
Your focus should be on helping your daughter to take charge of her health. A medical checkup would be a good idea — not to be weight-focused, but because many college students do not have much access to basic medical care and assessments. She should handle the appointment on her own, gathering all the information and health data she can and speaking with the physician privately. She needs to be in charge of her own health, and this is a good way to start.
DEAR AMY: I appreciate the fact that you go to the trouble to research charities to recommend every holiday season, but why do you recommend international charities? There are plenty of nonprofits to support in our own country. I find your orientation inappropriate. — Charitable Reader
DEAR READER: Out of a total of 12 charities I featured in my column, four were international (one of those, Save the Children, also works in this country). The charities I recommended spanned my own interests, including arts funding, working with at-risk youth, helping veterans, encouraging literacy and feeding people.
I also feel strongly that we are linked to our suffering and needy brothers and sisters in humanity across the world. Organizations such as the International Rescue Committee (rescue.org) and Doctors Without Borders (doctorswithoutborders.org), have a very real impact, mitigating the suffering of victims of conflict and displacement.
Mainly, I hope that this annual list will inspire people to give in their own ways, in their own communities and beyond.
DEAR AMY: I’m writing with regard to “Appreciative Out West,” who objects to hearing “no problem” in response to “thank you.” I understand that she would like to feel properly appreciated, but I think she may be overlooking the fact that “no problem” in English can and should be taken as a gracious expression meaning “you owe me nothing” or “I gave willingly (of my time or effort or material belongings).” When thanked in French, the proper response is “de rein,” which means “for nothing.” An alternate response is “il n’y a pas de quoi” or “it is nothing to me.” These are not slang toss-offs but gracious expressions of having given freely. They mean, essentially, “no problem.” Similarly, in Spanish, one says “de nada.” Again, “it’s nothing.” Personally, I say “you’re welcome,” but when someone does me a favor and I thank them, and they respond, “no problem,” I understand that this is a forgiveness of any indebtedness, just like “you’re welcome.” It’s a nice thing to say, and I take it as such. — Peter in Wisconsin
DEAR PETER: Beautiful lesson. Thank you.