Years ago, when my brother and I were in our early 40s, my mother asked me to talk to him about his weight. He'd put on quite a belly and was carrying more poundage than was either healthy or attractive.
I turned her down. My rationale: I doubt he gets up in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, 'Dang, I look good.' No need for me to pile on.
It is years later and, as the mother of grown children, I have stuck with my convictions. Now comes Carolyn Hax to put an even finer point on it.
A father of "several adult daughters" in their late teens to early 20s writes to Hax to say he is worried about their weight gain. (30 pounds each over the past year or two.) The dad says he doesn't want them to feel body-shamed but could he "express my concerns--once and only once?"
You know Hax is going to nix the idea. In fact she advises the dad to "Lay off the health-coaching idea, no matter how tempting it gets." But the money quote is this: "If a concerned talk could turn weight gain around, America would be thin."
What goes for weight gain applies to a whole slew of appearance issues--how our grown kids dress, how they cut (or dye) their hair, pierce their bodies or flaunt tattoos. No matter how our children's appearance is eating us up inside, no matter how concerned we are for their health (my brother was recovering from cancer treatments; he may have seen the weight gain as affirmation of his recovery), all we can do is accept and love our dearest ones for who they are and not what they look like. They'll adjust their looks if they want to.