locking widgit sizes

I'm using glade 2.12 to build an interface for a GTK based chat client and 
having trouble locking the size of buttons, text entry, etc. widgits. 

I've tried setting the height of the container, the height of the text entry & 
the height & width of the buttons but when I test the generated code the size 
of the widgets changes with the size of the 'parent window'.

I read the tutorials and the references until my mind glazes over but I can't 
recognise the solution if its there.

can anyone point me to a reference (manual section, web page, forum post) that 
could get me on track

thanks in advance,

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