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What Parents Can Do To Help

If you haven’t seen this page on our website, here it is as a blog post. It’s too valuable to miss!

When a member of the family — child or adult — is sick, parents are expected to research and pursue the treatment they need and to take on the responsibility of caregiving until the patient is well. Yet parents are not just looking to have the diagnosed illness resolved but to have their son or daughter get on with their unique growth and developing personality. Parents are stewards not just of healing sickness but of nurturing a thriving family, relationships, and future for all in the household.

Unfortunately, when our son or daughter develops an eating disorder, parents are too often still told what we should NOT do. In addition, we may actually be discouraged from taking on the role of caregiver, and even be blamed as having contributed to the development of the illness despite over a decade since those myths were overturned. At F.E.A.S.T. , we believe in parent involvement as key to the successful treatment of eating disorders, and prefer to concentrate on what parents CAN do to help their children recover.

PARENTS CAN…

  • Provide a safe environment for recovery in our homes
  • 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 our loved one
  • Support the other parent (s) emotionally and practically
  • Insist on treatment that ensures full nutrition and normalizing eating behaviors
  • Put boundaries on eating disorder and activity behaviors in our homes
  • Offer financial assistance while our 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
  • Advocate for our family member with treatment providers, funders, school, and employers
  • 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 our loved one’s recovery
  • Insist on patients signing waivers for our communication with treatment providers
  • Put aside conflicts with spouses 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 we learn about eating disorders
  • Offer support to other families struggling with this disease
  • Seek treatment for ourselves if we have illnesses or eating disordered behaviors

Believe in full recovery and never, ever give up.

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8 Comments

  1. Pauline Clune

    My dUghter develope an eating disorder 27years ago at the age of 16years & is still straggling at the time I did not know or understand the illness . She was told eat up & I was told get on with my own life which depressed me & made life more difficult to see what my daughter was going through & could do nothing to help ,we were always very close . I wish I had been given that advice many years ago it is great to see & that parents are not made to feel guilty for their child’s illness. Thank you !

    • Leslie

      My heart and prayers go out to you. It hasn’t even been a year since my 16 y old developed an eating disorder and sometimes I feel defeated. I can’t imagine going like that for so many years. FEAST has been a blessing to me; I didn’t know anything about eating disorders. Don’t loose faith, continue to support and help your daughter as much as you can, and as much as she allows you, that’s all we can do. Heaven knows how much we love them and that we would do anything to see them healthy and happy. Unfortunately at those ages we parents are thrown to the sidelines and is very difficult to help them. Knowing that we will be there no matter what gives them at least some comfort and hopefully strength to fight for themselves.

    • Doreen

      Hi Pauline: My daughter has been sick with an eating disorder for almost 25 years this year. She is 38 and started when she was 14. Unfortunately, she is STILL so very sick. She was 3 weeks from receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and let it all go b/c of ed. I understand how you feel and like you I was blamed for my daughter’s illness.
      How is your daughter today? If you EVER need to talk my email address is: eastender@rogers.com
      Good night and God Bless xoxoxoxoxo
      Canada

  2. Nancy Bennett

    Similar situation. My daughter is 45 and just entered treatment. Her husband and I are having a hard time with her. We need help and support as well

  3. Doreen

    Hi Nancy:

    My heart goes out to you. It is the worse feeling in the world, knowing there is NOTHING we can do when they are suffering and an adult.
    Please, the same goes for you. My email is: eastender@rogers.com

    Good night and God Bless
    Canada

  4. tina

    Hi Pauline, Leslie, Nancy, Doreen,
    I am grateful for your stories and wish you and your daughters healing and health. I would also love to connect if interested as I believe we all share so much of the same pain. Our daughter is 31 and like many of our loved ones starting with ED at 14, she is now in ED treatment at day 37 and needs higher-level care and she is refusing. I would love her to come home, but she seems to go in reverse at home. Not sure what to do. Tina- foltynew1@outlook.com

  5. Nancy Bennett

    Hi all. I would love to connect as well. I am doing some family support zoom group with her treatment center that is proving very helpful and I am starting my own therapy the end of the month nancyleab@gmail.com. California

  6. Margot

    Es un gran alivio encontrar un grupo para poder aprender y sentir que no estamos solas y todos poder aportar con su experiencia a entender lo que está pasando con nuestros familiares que pasan por esta enfermedad, espero poder contactar con ustedes para hablar del tema y reforzarme aún es difícil entender lo que está pasando.
    Tengo niña que está mal con el problema de alimentación ella tiene 14 años y empezó a bajar drásticamente en enero de este año paso 6 meses y me di cuenta de la gravedad y ahora estoy con ella tratando de sacarla de esto.
    Con la bendición de Dios y el esfuerzo mío saldremos de esto.

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