Talking To My Daughter

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.  
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God has been teaching me a lot about the incredible power of thankfulness.  We've talked about this in recent weeks at True Reflections and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the emails going around about thankfulness! 

Lately, I've been reading A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  The basis of the book is the author's struggle with depression and dissatisfaction in her life.  Then a friend challenges her to list 1000 gifts for which she is thankful.  As she works on the challenge, she writes about what God is teaching her, and her outlook on life changes significantly. 


I just read a passage this morning that struck me.  Ann is discussing how time seems to pass differently when she is giving thanks for small things.  Here's what she wrote,

"I redeem time from neglect and apathy and inattentiveness when I swell with thanks and weigh the moment down and it's giving thanks to God for this moment that multiplies the moments, time made enough"


I circled and underlined the word, "enough."  This word is so familiar in my struggle with the eating disorder, and with all the lies that Satan throws at me.  He forever tells me that I am "not enough" -not good enough, not kind enough, not thin enough, not spiritual enough, not fit enough, and on and on.  At the same time, he also tells me constantly that I am "too much" -too much in the way, too big, too loud, too worried.  Not enough and too much at the same time-somehow it sounds like I'm getting the cheap end of the bargain-battered at both ends.  And yet, if your eating disorder voice is similar to mine, it might be saying something like, "yeah, but you deserve it.  You really are that bad."  Let's put that lie on hold for a moment-freeze it in mid-air and put a bubble around it. 


Our God is a God who makes things "enough".  He took seven loaves and two fishes and made it into more than enough for thousands.  He stretched out daylight so the Israelites could defeat their enemies-he made the day ENOUGH.  He made Moses bold enough and Joshua courageous enough.  This is the same God who can make us enough, never by our own achievement, but by His grace. 


So what gets us there?  How can we take that leap of faith and quiet the voices that scream the opposite at us?  I wonder if the answer is giving thanks.  Before Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, He gave thanks.  I've found that, when I get stuck in depression and beating myself up in my mind, a short list of things for which I am thankful is incredibly powerful to change the direction of my thoughts.  Of course, this is anything but easy.  I've been working on my own list of 1000 gifts from God, and on the mornings when I wake up depressed or worried, it is REALLY hard to come up with the first one!  I have some notes in the margins of my journal saying, "Ugh, God, this is really hard to do today, and part of me doesn't want to do it."  In these moments, I need the Holy Spirit to give me some prompting- to make me willing enough to look for and find things for which I can be thankful. 


I like the phrase, "time made enough."  I imagine my name in there, "Jackie made enough."  Try it with your name, "_______ made enough."  How did it feel?  Try it again, even louder, " _______ MADE ENOUGH!"  (Probably feeling a little awkward now, right? 🙂 That's okay.)  Through God's grace, we are made "enough".  We are loved enough, blessed enough, strong enough, made whole enough, courageous enough.  Me alone vs. Satan- I am hopelessly defeated.  But add God into the equation and there is no question which side wins.  Satan may scream the lies at me all day, and I may even believe them, but they will never be true.  My God is enough. 


My prayer right now for each of you is that you might glimpse the truth, even for a moment.  I pray that that moment will give you hope and encouragement.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will come alongside you in moments of doubt, and help you to see the gifts surrounding you and strengthen you to give thanks for them.  I pray that you will break free and run from Satan's lies, running into God's gates with thanksgiving and claiming His protection.  I pray that, as many times as we are led astray by the lies, we will be brought back to God's truths.  I love that He never tells us we have run away too many times.  He always welcomes us back and embraces us.  Thank heavens we don't have to deserve it!  In Jesus' name, Amen. 


*written by Jackie VanArsdale


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Beauty Is Not What You See

Consider this before comparing yourself to your favorite magazine model…

Lysa Terkeurst says this about the video, "It just goes to show the illusive beauty benchmark the world dangles in front of women and girls is unrealistic at best and unattainable at worst. In short, beauty isn’t looking like the models. Even the models don’t look like the models. Beauty, true beauty, comes from within."

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