I have a friend whom I will call Mary. She and I have been friends
for about 2 years. Lately I have noticed that she has lost a lot of
weight. I asked her about it and she said she was just eating less.
other night we were at a sleepover at another friend’s house.
We had pizza and soda for dinner. Mary ate a large pepperoni pizza
by herself. She had finished it in less than 15 minutes. I told her
to slow down or she was going to get sick. She said she had not eaten
anything all day and she was just really hungry.
We started watching a movie and I noticed Mary was gone. I went looking
for her and she was in the bathroom. She said she had a stomachache.
I asked her if there was anything I could do for her and she said
As I was walking away I heard her throwing up. I went back and asked
her again if she was okay. She said she was fine and for me to leave
The next day I spoke to my dad about what happened. He said it sounds
like Mary has an eating disorder. I asked my dad if there was anything
we could do to help Mary. I want to help but I have no idea what to
am very glad my daughter came to me with her concerns about her friend,
Mary.I have met her parents a couple of times. They seem to be very
unhappy. Her dad was yelling at her mom at a school function and I
noticed Mary was very embarrassed with their behavior.
would like to approach them and try to help Mary, but these people
do not seem to be approachable at all. I really think they will just
tell me to mind my own business.
Dear Tania and her Dad,
Tania, I’m glad that you were able to go to your Dad for advice
and assistance even though you may not be able to solve Mary’s
problems. It is upsetting to feel that a friend is in trouble and
your suspicions may be valid. On the other hand, you are assuming
a lot and that might make it harder for you to talk honestly and openly
with your friend. There are many reasons for weight loss and one episode
of overeating and throwing up does not necessarily add up to bulimia.
You are probably correct, Dad, that approaching Mary’s parents
without Mary’s request that you do so could well result in a
request to “mind your own business” and a serious cut-off
of friendship and potential communication. I would think that being
friendly or interested, if you feel that way, on an equal playing
field, not a savior, would be a better approach. You really do not
know what is going on in Mary’s life or that of her parents
and have made assumptions based on your own observations. Be cautious
about where you go with this or you could damage the friendship between
Mary and your daughter. You can’t necessarily jump in and fix
things for your daughter or anyone else, especially when you are unsure
of what is going or how Mary and her parents feel about getting outside
help. On the other hand, telling your daughter how good you feel about
her coming to you when something troubled her strengthens your own
parent/child relationship and encourages your daughter to seek your
advice (not interventions) in the future.