Posted by fxckfeelings on May 18, 2015Share This Post
When you have a specific goal for yourself or someone you care about, it’s useful to imagine that goal as a physical destination, and set limits as the directions for getting there. After all, just nagging someone to do something they wouldn’t instinctively do is like being a GPS that tells the driver to “just get there,” and worrying about making a goal you haven’t considered carefully will leave you driving in circles. If you want to determine those limits, you need to know why your limits are better than the alternative so you can fully explain them, even if it’s just to yourself. If you can properly weigh the value of limits in terms of improvement, then you or that someone you care about can arrive at your goal via the best route possible.
I can’t stand watching my son come home from school everyday, earphone in one ear, and go straight upstairs without acknowledging anyone so he can go hole up in his room and text and play videogames. When I tell him to get his face up and out of a screen before I take every last device away, he asks me why I’m punishing him. He’s a good kid and gets his schoolwork done eventually, but he doesn’t help out around the house or really engage on any level. My goal is to get him to see that it’s not healthy to do nothing but mess around with all this vapid technology without having to fight with him all the time.
It would be nice to have the kind of kid who naturally likes to socialize, chip in, and keep busy with healthy activities, but humans like that at any age are rare. After a long day—and, if he’s in high school, lord knows what horrors his day can include—most of us just want to zone out and relax with a glass of wine/Xbox.
Of course, if you express annoyance, your kid does what most people do when they feel criticized and under-appreciated—he finds a way to do even less.
If he’s good with words/a typical self-centered adolescent, he might also remind you of what you didn’t do for him and how unfair you are to be critical when it’s really all your fault because he didn’t ask to be born.
So your goal isn’t to get your son to see or understand anything, or to suddenly find motivation and energy where none exists; it’s to figure out what you’d like him to do and give him the reminders and incentives he needs. Instead of waiting until you’re both tired to nag him, list your priorities for him far in advance.
They probably include activities that give him exercise, get his homework done, keep the house clean, build his skills, or do good for others. Translate those priorities into a schedule and daily and weekly to-do list.
Present it positively; tell your son that he’s not getting punished for being a slacker, but that he’s reached an age where he can take on new responsibilities and do new and interesting things, and that you have some good ideas. They won’t all be fun, but they’ll be helpful and will also make him strong and independent. And if he doesn’t fulfill these tasks, he’ll find his precious screentime severely curtailed.
From what you say, your son can get work done when he knows what he’s supposed to do, but it may be a long time, or forever, before he notices your feelings or finds ways to keep busy. For now, good management and praise will get him moving in the right direction, even if, at first, it’s only out of his room.
“I sometimes think my son is mindless, lazy, and selfish, but I know he’s a good kid who can work hard. I will give him worthwhile activities and structure his time so we can both be better satisfied with his accomplishments.”
My doctor tells me I’d be a lot healthier if I dropped 20 more pounds, but I just can’t seem to do it. I’m ashamed of not having more self-control, but I’ve had enough to lose eighty pounds so far. I just can’t get all the way down from super obese to a healthy weight—I’m stuck at “still too fat”—and as much as I want to stop being overweight, avoid getting diabetes, and generally meet my goal, I can’t seem to control my diet and exercise enough to do it. That’s been true all my life, in spite of what I’ve done to work out and play sports. So far, I’ve been lucky to be healthy, but my doctor is concerned now that I’m getting older. My goal is to lose weight and stop worrying my doctor before it’s too late.
Doctor’s orders used to carry a lot of weight (pun intended), but the negative side of believing absolutely in your doctor’s authority is not getting to grow up and make your own decisions. Yes, some people say it’s wrong to be your own doctor, but there’s nothing wrong with being your own knowledgeable second opinion.
Your goal isn’t to make your doctor happy—doctors are seldom happy, anyway, because they worry too much—but to find out what’s known about the risks of obesity, review your own experience with weight control, and decide what it means to do your best as a manager of your health.
After all, you’re the only one who really knows how hard your body clings to its fat, and how your physique has never actually reflected the amount of exercise you’re getting. You also know it’s very hard for many people to influence their body weight, and that the results of dieting are hard to maintain. Given your experience and understanding of the risks, decide how much effort to invest in weight control while dealing with your other major life priorities.
Be prepared to revise your investment in weight control, depending on what is happening in your life. Sometimes you may have more opportunity to diet and exercise, while other times, you may slip back, in part because other priorities are more important. Either way, you can be proud that you’re doing your best under the circumstances to meet a thoughtful goal.
Asking simple questions, pick your doctor’s brain to find out the statistics behind his worries. Before long, you’ll be confident that you know your risks and can weigh them against your other priorities and what you think is your body’s maximum potential. Then, even though both of you may still worry, you’ll know that you and your attitude are as healthy as can be expected.
“I hate my weight, but I’ve got a rich life and make a good effort to keep my diet under control. Regardless of whether I ever reach my target, I’m proud that I never ignore it, I always stay informed about nutrition, and I’ll never quit trying to be healthier.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname