Dear Ann Cannon • So my adult daughter has been complaining about her weight and asking me for my advice about losing it. But the last time she was in town I couldn’t help but notice how much she’s eating right now. I tried to bite my tongue, but I did send her sister a text expressing my frustration about the situation. Except I accidentally sent the text on a thread that included—you guessed it—the daughter who’s been complaining about her weight. Now she’s both hurt and furious. Help me, Rhonda! How can I make this all better?
— Texting Challenged
Dear Texting • Wow. There’s a LOT to unpack here.
First. Let me start off by saying you should be flattered that an adult daughter—especially one who’s still young — is asking you for your advice. I don’t have adult daughters of my own, but it appears to me that they’re often reluctant to ask for a mother’s advice because they want to prove that they’re capable of managing without it.
Which brings me to my second point. Is this daughter really asking for your advice about losing weight? Or does she just want you to listen? Sometimes when people complain, we go into problem-solving mode when all they really want is to blow off some steam. So there’s that.
Now let’s move on to the losing-weight part. As a card-carrying lifetime member of Weight Watchers, I really get how fraught the whole issue of weight control can be. There were times when my whole sense of self-worth was tied up in the number on my scale. Gah! Awful! Your daughter may be the same way, so any comments about her weight, no matter how innocent or well-meaning, probably carry much more power than they should. And in this situation, knowing that her weight was being (supposedly) discussed with a sibling behind her back didn’t help, right?
How should you respond? Resist the temptation to justify yourself. Just own what you did and apologize. Because this daughter talks to you about her weight in the first place, I’m assuming your relationship is a relatively good one. Give her some time and she’ll get over it.
And now for my final point. UGH! TECHNOLOGY! After having thoroughly embarrassed myself over the years with misguided messages, I now only write stuff that anybody could read. Even if it’s confusing. Like that text I meant to send to AnnMarie last week but accidentally sent to someone named Vigo instead. (Hi, Vigo! Nice to have met you!)
Dear Ann Cannon • I miss old-fashioned Christmas cards. Now if people bother to send cards, they just send family pictures. This isn’t a question. Just a rant. Thank you for listening.
— Card Scrooge
Dear Card Scrooge • I like both, actually — family pictures and Christmas cards (the sparklier, the better.) OK. You didn’t ask for my advice, but since this is an advice column, here’s something you can do. Buy yourself some cards and display them around your house. I personally like to set Christmas cards on my windowsills. Score! Meanwhile, send out a few cards yourself if you haven’t already. Then sit back, put your feet up and be grateful you have people in your life who care enough to send you something in the mail besides circulars from Reams.
Dear Ann Cannon • I’m a hairstylist who wants to drop a client because she’s just so difficult. How do I go about doing this?
— Client Issues
Dear Issues • Well, I’d definitely talk to your peers and see how they’ve handled similar situations. Ask what they did and if they were pleased with the outcome. Meanwhile, I posed your question to a friend of mine, a hairstylist who also happens to be one of the smartest women I know. Here’s how she’s dealt with clients whom she has decided to drop. This friend watches for their name to pop up on the books. When it does, she’ll call and politely say, “I feel like I’m not a very good fit for you, so let me recommend a stylist you’ll be happier with.” If you do this, expect the client to push back, so be firm. Kind. But firm.
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