What CAN Parents Do to Help?
When a child is sick, parents are expected to get them the treatment they need, and to take on the responsibility of caregiving until the patient is well.
Unfortunately, when a child develops an eating disorder, parents are too often told what they should NOT do! In addition, they may actually be discouraged from taking on the role of caregiver, and may even be blamed as having contributed to the development of the illness. At F.E.A.S.T. , we believe that parent involvement is key to the successful treatment of eating disorders, and prefer to concentrate on what parents CAN do to help their children recover.
- provide a safe environment for recovery in their home
- seek and evaluate clinical treatment options
- take control of eating and food until the patient is able to do so independently
- insist on effective treatment whether the patient is living at home, in hospital, or in long term residential care
- quit or cut back on other obligations to concentrate on supporting a loved one
- Mothers and fathers can support each other emotionally and practically
- insist on treatment that ensures full nutrition and normalizing eating behaviors
- put boundaries on eating disorder and activity behaviors in their homes
- offer financial assistance while a loved one is out of work
- refuse to financially support a loved one who is not in effective treatment
- refuse to support ineffective treatment
- become educated in eating disorders by consulting evidence-based experts and reading widely in professional and lay literature
- form educated opinions on treatment
- insist on communication with the treatment team
- be part of the treatment team
- pay for treatment and keep a patient insured
- educate extended relatives and community about the current science in eating disorders
- take care of siblings and extended family affected by the illness
- offer emotional support during the suffering of eating disorder recovery
- give up activities and habits that conflict with a loved one's recovery
- insist on patients signing waivers for communication with treatment providers
- put aside conflicts with spouse or other family members to present a common voice to the patient
- speak out in the media about how eating disorders affect the whole family
- get involved with advocacy and education in the eating disorder world
- make personal changes based on what they learn about eating disorders
- offer support to other families struggling with this disease
- seek treatment for themselves if they have illnesses or eating disordered behaviors
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