Fit vs. Fiction's Blog

But I don’t want my daughter to be mad at me! (When you need to step in anyway)

“I just knew something was wrong with my daughter. I just FELT it.”

Yesterday, a woman approached me and shared her experience of finding out that her 13 year old daughter was struggling with an eating disorder. It’s been many years and a whole lot of therapy and hard work, but her daughter is finally walking the road to recovery. What I found really inspiring about this mom, was her ability and willingness to listen to what her gut instincts were telling her.

“There were no obvious signs. Things were subtle at first, a little gradual weightloss, small changes in her eating habits and a stronger interest in the calorie content of foods she was eating. But I just knew that something was up.”

One night, during a family dinner, this mom noticed that her daughter was indulging in way more desserts than usual and seemed a little stressed. The next thing she saw was her daughter head upstairs towards the bathroom and her gut told her to follow right behind her. When they reached the top of the stairs, her daughter turned to her and said, “Mom! What are you doing?!” Her mom didn’t explain that she was worried her daughter was about to stick her fingers down her throat in an effort to purge her body of the candy and cookies she had just consumed and wasn’t about to make it easier for her. Instead, she just told her that she was going to stand outside the bathroom door and wait for her. Thus began an angry exchange of not so pleasant words where her daughter begged her to STOP being so nosy and rude and to leave her ALONE! Her mother refused. After several minutes, her daughter went into the bathroom and walked out a minute or 2 later, unable to accomplish what she had set out to. Her mom looked her in eyes and said gently but firmly, “We are going for help.”

It is so important for parents to listen to their gut instincts when it comes to their children’s well being.

Another mother recently told me that she has a strong feeling her 17 year old daughter is struggling with something and thinks she is using food as a sort of coping mechanism. She’s worried but her daughter does not like to talk about her feelings, keeps to herself and gets angry everytime she tries to initiate any conversation.

“I don’t want her to be mad at me,” Her mom explained.

Being the mother of a teenager myself, I understand that it is no fun when our teens get moody and confrontational. They can get downright mean. But while there are times when we need to just back off and give them space, there are also times when we need to put ourselves in the line of fire and risk taking a few shots if it means saving our kids.

Vanessa was 15 years old when her body image issues started turning into an eating disorder and she was 16 when her mother figured out what was going on. Vanessa shared her feelings about “Meddling” parents with me:

“I think that kids who are suffering with this WANT their parents to know about it and to ask about it. Even if they seem mad at first, it’ll feel good to be acknowledged. They’ll feel safe. For me, my food issues got worse when I was stressed and a lot of my stress came from school. It was very difficult for me to open up about my food issues and a lot easier for me to talk about school. It was great when my mom asked me how things were going at school and about regular life stresses because it helped relieve some of the pressure I was feeling. Feeling less stressed helped with my food situation. I know it may seem like kids don’t want to talk about their problems with their parents all the time, but we really do need to know that they’re there and that they care.”

If you feel that your kids are struggling with something, step in, ask questions and let them know that you’re there for them if and when they ever need to talk. They may not be ready to share what they’re going through with you right away but at least they’ll know that you are ready to listen when the time comes.

Do NOT worry about them getting angry at you. It’s better to have an angry, healthy kid than a sick one. I promise, they will forgive you. As parents, we can’t always help our kids, but we need to know that we’ve done everything we can to at least try. You’ll never regret trying butting in, and you never want to regret staying silent.


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  1. alexxrae said,

    I agree! Although it is unfortunately beyond the parent’s realm of control. Nothing can stop the grasps of these illnesses once they take hold. Recovery is neither a testament of the patient’s or the parent’s willpower, strength, or intelligence.

    • fitvsfiction said,

      You’re right. But if we can do our best to surround our kids with the best possible messages and support then it is possible to prevent the situation from getting worse. Having a supportive environment will definitely help with recovery. It’s a very long, tough battle and knowing that you’re loved unconditionally makes reaching out a little easier. :o)

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