"Secretly, I wished my parents would care more."

I spend a lot of my time as an ED treatment advocate fighting the same two things. One is a fear on the part of parents that their children truly don't want their help, and may get worse if they intervene. The other is the idea that parents don't care.

Of course these are related. Because both of these (mis) perceptions come from listening to the illness: Secretly, I wished my parents would care more

"Truthfully, I’m also a little excited to start cutting back on my food intake and to lose weight. Even after so much time, my eating disorder is still a large part of my life, and I’m not sure I’m ready, or even want, to let it go."

Heartbreaking. How does a parent see through such thinking and action to know what to do? I know the parents care. I know the parents feel helpless and confused.

I believe 'separating the illness from the person' is one of the best skills a parent can employ. Listening to the actions and needs of a patient instead of what they say and think. Understanding the cognitions of the ED as a symptom, not free will.

But who is going to tell the parents that? Who will translate? ED?


  1. I'm sure many parents want to do everything they can to help their children recover, but receive poor advice. For example, a large treatment center in the US tells parents NOT to monitor the food intake of an anorexic child unless he or she is "psychologically collapsing." "Attempts to control food intake," this Center advises, "almost invariably make the eating disorder worse and more difficult to resolve." This is the worst possible message to give to parents, but it is still too often standard procedure. It's hard to fault a parent for allowing a child to starve when these kinds of messages are given by treatment professionals. We need to give parents better information.

  2. Laura,

    I've been away on vacation until just recently. I just saw this blog post. Mamavision is back online (she was off for some time) and there is a new posting entitled "If only they knew..." She goes on to ask..."What do you wish you could share with your parents?

    What do they, particularly your mother, not understand about you and your eating disorder?

    Your body image issues stem from where?"

    Her question is less antagonistic than the last time around (picture of parent with head in the sand and the outright 'blame'). The many answers from the girls are heart-rending and run the gamut from rather profound to confused/blaming of self/others. Some of MV's answers are once again off base:

    "...A common theme appears to be that mothers take your ED’s personally. This reaction is so very sad to me. I can not imagine the total aloneness you felt when confiding in your mom only to have her make the issue about herself..."

    "...I can only guess its because mothers have not dealt with their own issues, so they unknowingly pass thoughts, and feelings, and behaviors on to their daughters.

    Unknowlingly is stretching it though. Don’t you think?..."

    "...Now, on to your mother. First, who have you shamed anyone? You are a victim. One who needs support. The shame is on her..."

    In general her tone is less of an affront than previously, but she still treats this biologically-based illness more as a choice. Some of her advice is okay, but much drives kids away from families rather than toward potential sources of help and reinforces ED thinking, especially when she doesn't know the whole truth of situations. I admit I am a bit tired of taking her on, but at the same time appalled by the potential for damage. Anyone want to tackle it again?


  3. It infuriates me that a parent would be playing confidante and enabler to other people's children - their mentally ill children.

    MV has a whole lot of time and energy and words for a topic she understands not at all.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts