No parent wants to discover that their child is diagnosed with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are very misunderstood, and often stigmatized and under-treated as a result. Up until very recently, parents were sometimes kept out of treatment, based on the misguided assumption that the eating disorder was the parents’ fault, and therefore parents should just “stay out of it.”
Today we know that when a child is diagnosed with an eating disorder, parents have tremendous potential to help the process of recovering. We recognize that for the vast majority of parents who have a child who is diagnosed with an eating disorder, the parents are loving and well-meaning. The child’s genetics, life experiences, and environment have all worked together in a perfect storm to create the eating disorder as a maladaptive coping mechanism. Of course, parents and all family members are part of the child’s environment, so we can definitely look at how our behavior, often subconscious, impacts the environment.
Almost every parent is capable of making a significant impact on their child’s eating disorder treatment. This is not easy – it requires some fairly important shifts in the way you approach parenting – but it is entirely possible and within your reach.