You need not walk this path alone
In my professional experience over these past four decades in treating
individuals and families with eating disorders, I have found knowledgeable
parenting to be the “magic bullet” enhancing effective, timely, and lasting
recoveries in children.
is a prerequisite to parents becoming
effective advocates for the child, treatment team, recovery process, and the
overall quality of the parent/child relationship.
This site will educate you
about eating disorders, the treatment process, your child in recovery, and
yourself…preparing you to become your child’s most invaluable resource and
mentor for recovery.
It will eradicate the misconception that parental involvement in
their child’s recovery is equivalent to interference, or that parents who
attempt to become involved in healing their child
violate their child’s budding autonomy and privacy.
As informed consumers, it is for
their inherent rights as individuals, parents and partners in the
To dare to
appropriate demands of the recovering child as well as of the team.
steadfast in seeing to it that their own, and their family’s needs get
has become a means for facilitating and sustaining eating disorder recovery.
Eating disorders never stand still; they are either getting better or
getting worse. Matching the nature and demands of these disorders on the
move, parents, like therapists, must insure that there is movement in
recovery that is intentional, directed, and tracked. It is this systematic
tracking and response to what would otherwise be an unpredictable and
counterintuitive recovery dynamic that yields the most productive learning
and outcomes. With eating disorders, parental love needs to be translated
into action; loving one’s child is not enough.
The most critical resource for parents is
themselves; their most critical tool, the gentle and familiar art of
listening…actively and purposefully, to:
their own values, attitudes, and biases about food and weight
management, and to the courage it takes to maintain a parental presence
throughout the child’s recovery process
to help the child listen to and better hear herself.
health professionals; to discover whether the professional is truly
listening to them.
The unique and
counterintuitive nature of recovery; to comprehend and interpret it to
the child, inspiring reassurance, motivation and perseverance throughout
an extended and challenging process.
Parents need no instruction about how to respond when their child has cancer
or diabetes; interestingly, they tend to lose their emotional balance,
self-confidence, and faith in their instincts when confronting the
adolescent life stage, life corrupting eating disorders, their own personal
issues regarding eating, exercise, and weight management, and their search
for the best professional team.
In searching out health professionals to work with your child, finding the
“right fit” for your child will feel like a comfortable fit for you. Your
child’s health professionals need to understand that the quality of your
connection with your child in recovery will be the best insurance of a
timely recovery and the best hedge against relapse. By hearing and
addressing your concerns, supporting your strengths and facilitating your
partnership in the treatment team, professionals who collaborate with and
advocate for you in the healing process will become role models for your own
effective advocacy for your recovering child.
Though the eating disorder shows up in the individual child, their most
effective solutions are found within the family system as a whole.
Many parents, when confronted by the
intimidation of the eating disorder and the child carrying it, tend to
forget what it takes to do what they do best… care for their child,
purposefully and proactively. They need to be reminded. Recovery from
these diseases happens at home, under their parent’s noses and before their
eyes…not in the doctor’s offices.
Parents' motivations are pure and genuine, their intentions
Parents want to do what is best for their child. Intelligent and appropriate
parental involvement in the prevention and healing of eating disorders, with
proper coaching and guidance, renders them capable of doing just that. For
parents without guidance, the task can be an uphill battle.
points for empowered parents:
Parents must learn to address food issues before they become problems, to
intervene in problems before they become serious, ingrained, or habitual,
and to address body image concerns before they become body image distortions
and preoccupations. Parents who address food and eating issues in their
child are essentially addressing the
whole child. How we eat is how we live.
Be parental. Take
Don’t be afraid; of
the child, the eating disorder, of taking a stand, of conflict, or
arousing child’s anger or displeasure. Anticipate it, prepare for it,
face and handle it.
Eat meals together.
Stay connected emotionally, as well as nutritionally.
Become aware of your
own attitudes around food.
Educate your child.
Teach and model a healthy eating and healthy exercise lifestyle.
Don’t skip breakfast.
Participate actively as an advocate for your child, family, and treatment team in facilitating the treatment and recovery progress.