Are you a mom of a daughter who is struggling with an eating disorder?
It's a common struggle for moms to talk with their daughters about this sensitive topic. Every person is different and unique, so some of these suggestions may not apply to your daughter. However, we compiled a list of these general suggestions, which we hope may be helpful to consider as you actively support your daughter in recovery.
- PRAY – The battle she is up against is so much more than food, apperance or image. She is in a battle for her mind against the enemy of her soul. Go into spiritual battle for her and pray that she would stand firm on the truth, that her identity would be firmly found in Christ and that she would be covered with the armor of God in every battle.
- UNCONDITIONAL LOVE – Love, support and encourage her no matter what the circumstances! Even if her actions seem ridiculous and make no sense to you, affirm her and love her unconditionally. Talk about the strengths you see in her. Focus on the positive aspects of what she does well! Draw out the positive qualities of who she is as a person. Girls struggling with an ED can appear confident and strong, but underneath usually struggle with feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, failure, insecurity, fear and shame. Listen carefully to how she talks talk about herself. Try to identify what lies she might be believing about herself. Turn those lies upsidedown and speak the truth of who she really is in Christ!
- AVOID CRITICISM – Always let her know that you are helping out of love, not from frustration about the ED. Avoid being critical or judgmental because she is most likely a pretty hard critic on herself already.
- AVOID APPEARANCE TALK – Avoid talking about their appearance, such as "you are too skinny, you need more meat on your bones," etc. Your daughter most likely does not view herself the way she actually looks. Engaging in apperance conversations will likely go nowhere helpful. Also avoid talking negatively about your own appearance. Negative comments about your apperance or hers, can trigger your daughter to use eating disorder behaviors out of anger or spite.
- ADDRESS COMMON TRIGGERS – If your daughter is open, ask her what triggers her to use eating disorder behaviors. For instance, common triggers are being alone, being busy or stressed, relational conflict, escape from having to deal with feelings, etc. Ask if there is any way that you could help them by removing those triggers.
- LISTEN – Many girls engage in eating disorder behaviors because they have difficult feelings trapped inside that either they are unaware of or unwilling to talk about. As much as you can, keep your house a place that is open to express feelings. Show that you are ready and willing to listen any time. Even if you may not agree with your daughter, be a good listening ear. Avoid giving too much advice or your opinion about what they should be doing.
- TAKE SMALL STEPS – Focus on things they CAN do and are willing to change, as opposed to what they cannot do. Focus on 1 thing that they are willing to work on. It's very challenging to consider changing an entire lifestyle, so it's more practical to focus on 1 thing at a time. Make small goals frequently.
- HAVE A HEALTHY PERSPECTIVE YOURSELF – Don't talk about foods being good or bad. Don't go on diets or count calories at home. Show them that all foods in moderation are okay by eating this way yourself. Don't talk about yourself in a negative way or that is critical of your own body. Eat family meals. Not only is it more difficult for them to avoid skipping meal that way, but it also gives you an opportunity to talk. Generally it's probably best to avoid talking about food with your daughters. If you can get them involved with a counselor or dietitian, it's best to let them have talks about food/diet with your daughters.