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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:13 PM   #1
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To Confront or not Confront, that is the question.

I have been seeing somebody for almost 3 months now, and I have a big moral dillema here. Her parents are always talking her down and making her feel like crap all the way around. She doesnt want to stand up to them because they are helping her through a rough time right now, which I do not think is right.

She suffers from depression and is on medication for it, yet her parents (Mostly her dad) say things and do things that completly undermine her self worth. For instance, they took her and a few friends out for dinner on Friday (I was unable to make it because I had to work late, otherwise I would have said something right there). Anyway, not only did her dad make a rude comment about work (She was just laid off) but she also suggested that she start fasting, because nobody likes chubby girls. This was one of many comments that caused her not only embarassment in front of her friends, but she also threw up on her dinner.

This is not the first time this has happened either, I can't tell you how many times she gets off the phone with them and crys in my arms because of things they say to her. I feel like a child watching another student get berated and insulted by a teacher and helpless to do anything about it. Or can I?

I want to call and talk her mom about it and explain that what they are doing her and how much it hurts her to hear things like this from the people that are supposed to care most for her. I have no question that they love her, but I just don't think they realize what they are doing and how it's effecting her self esteem. Of course, I run into the problem of going behind her back to talk to her parents, because I know she would tell me not to. I also run into the problem of her parents severly altering their perception of me. Not that I give a crap what people think of me (If you don't like me for who I am, tough luck), but I can't just stand by and watch this happen without saying anything.

I am stuck between a rock and a hard place here and I am not sure what to do. I want to stand up for her, and I want to do it in the most considerate way possible to her parents because I respect them, but I also don't want them to take it out on her or for her to find out (Which she probably will). Any suggestions here?
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:24 PM   #2
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Forget about changing her parents. You can't do it, they don't want to change and they will resent any implication that what they are doing is wrong. Write them off.

You can try to help your friend understand why she puts up with her parents' behaviour, or you can recommend that a professional be consulted for this purpose, which will probably be the more successful route. The problem will be that your friend will gather that you think she is somewhat unwell, and even if we all think that of ourselves, from time to time, or all the time, it's not the same as wanting to hear it.

In the meantime, and I do mean "mean" time, the best thing to do if you have to be around her parents is politely say "Please don't talk to x like that" if they continue this behaviour. You don't have to explain it and you don't have to put up with it. But you do risk losing your friend if she can't bear to hear it.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:33 PM   #3
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When her mom was out and I went to pick her up for dinner one night, she came out of her room and her mom said "You're wearing THAT?" I turned to her and told her she looked beautiful. Her mom mentioned to her later that she was impressed the way I stood up for her and the respectful way I chose to do it.

Another kink in the bind.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:37 PM   #4
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why the bleep do you respect them? imagine what your friend would be like with good parents?

Maybe buy the folks a Dr.Phil-type book and present it to them at another public dinner.

Good advice, However.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:44 PM   #5
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I suffer from clinical depression--it's a pattern that goes way back over 20 years for me. (I can trace the feelings back into childhood.) I have my own issues with my parents, mostly my mom. I've gone through a lot of therapy in the last year and a half, and have found much healthier ways to cope.

You will not be helping her to confront her parents for her. In fact, even if *she* confronted her parents, it isn't likely to help either--they have their own reasons for acting that way, and they may not want to change. (It's *somewhat* more likely to help if she did it, but she needs to gain a heck of a lot of emotional self-reliance first--from what you describe, she doesn't have that yet.)

What she does need to learn is how to create good emotional boundaries with her parents. This is very difficult--after all, most of us want a caring relationship with our parents, not a distant and bounded one.

Your best bet is to be supportive of her and caring, but she's got to work out this relationship with her parents on her own. You will help nothing by confronting them--can you imagine what will happen to her if you did confront them, and then put her in the position of having to defend you to her parents and her parents to you? That's a rotten place to be.

Sorry MacDaddy, but you can't fix this. You can help her cope with it, but it's not something within your realm to fix.

As a side note:
Medication for depression can help alliviate some of the depressive feelings, but it does not change the unhealthy emotional patterns and relationships that contribute to (or often cause) depression. That requires some a lot of self-learning about how to cope with those. A good therapist can be a big help for that.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:45 PM   #6
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MacDaddy:

As difficult as it is to stand by and watch a friend, coworker, family member, loved one or even complete stranger, get dumped on by anyone, ultimately it is up to the individual to stand up to the abuse.

The best you can do now is to counsel your friend to do just that, and to provide support throughout the process.

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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 06:56 PM   #7
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I agree with the above - you would be putting her in a very stressful situation. Hard as it is to stand by - if I were you I would concentrate on boosting her self esteem and trying to install in her that she needs to see and build on the positive in her - and you can help her do this with praise and positivity- don't go overboard or she won't believe you. Be there for her.

What has helped my confidence with myself are my own achievements - and having my partner tell and show me that he has faith in me has been a tremendous help.

Good luck.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 07:23 PM   #8
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Sonal couldn't have put it any better.

The best thing you can offer your girlfriend is to offer all the love and support you have that you feel she is missing. You can't make others give it to her, but you certainly can remind her she deserves it.

Good luck, tread lightly and remember to not get caught, or her caught in the middle of a struggle for what's best for her. Only she will be able to uncover that. But, you caring this much about her is already more than enough of a start for her.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 07:30 PM   #9
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if you attack her parents she will likely side with them, over time. they have such an iron grip on her.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 07:44 PM   #10
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Things are so much easier to deal with when you ignore them.

I myself am going thru the same thing, I was diagnosed in april of this year, with a major clinical depression. Besides having to deal with the depression, and so many otherthings that go along with it. The hardest part even now that I haven't been back to work yet, is having to deal with family that just don't understand that I am sick; and I just can't pick up my socks and go back to work. It's a long process trying to educate family on what is going on. Just hang in there, and don't be afraid to talk, even about the things that are hard to talk about. My wife has been so helpfull just listening.

Things just take time, they also happen for a reason.
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