Home » Ask the Therapist » Parenting » How Can I Best Help My Child?

How Can I Best Help My Child?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

From the U.S.: my daughter is currently 15 and lives with grandma and papa since age 3 with limited contact with me. My family has a history of mental health issues and there are big people in my family. Child is 15 and struggling with weight she’s 220lbs. Grand parent don’t believe in mental health problems and won’t let her be seen for depression.

QUESTION: they buy gifts for a birthday and Christmas but tells the child they can’t actually have it till they lose 20-50lbs. What kind of damage is being done to her mentally? I need to educate the grandparents

How Can I Best Help My Child?

Answered by on -


It must be frustrating to see a problem and have little ability to have impact. This situation is far too complex for a simple answer. You didn’t indicate what kind of relationship you have with your daughter or with the grandparents who have been raising her. You also didn’t share how much contact you have with them. Although I appreciate and share your concern, my guess is that your ability to intervene is minimal.

That being said: Body image and weight issues are common among teens. Shaming doesn’t help. Threats and bribes don’t help. A supportive conversation with your daughter that lets her share her own concerns might. It’s likely she is anxious and discouraged. In that case, a conversation about how you might help her feel better about herself and more empowered to take care of herself will be more productive than insisting on a diet plan.

If the family is receptive, you may be able to share that information. If not, all you can do is calmly share your concerns and offer to help when people are ready to accept it. Do remember that doing what you can to preserve your relationships with everyone is more important than insisting that they resolve this particular problem. With a stronger relationship, you will have more influence.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Can I Best Help My Child?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Can I Best Help My Child?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 26 Jul 2018 (Originally: 29 Jul 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 26 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.