My Child Has An Eating Disorder…And I’m Exhausted!

Parent Dealing With Kids Eating Disorder

So, your child has an eating disorder and suddenly your role as a parent has evolved from provider and caregiver to treatment team member, therapist, and watchdog…and, you’re worn out. Get 3 tips for dealing with your child’s eating disorder without losing your mind, plus information on how I can help if you are in the Vancouver, WA area.

The eating disorder didn’t just show up one day, raging and destroying your home life. It crept in slowly until one day your entire life revolved around it.

In our Western culture we are bombarded daily with the thin-ideal messages. You know the ones that tell us life will be better, happier, more satisfying when we are thinner.

All day long we hear people talk about dieting and losing weight, so in the beginning your child’s eating disorder probably seemed harmless

In the beginning was he/she happy, fun to be around, enjoyable?

Many parents report that in the beginning, before the eating disorder took over, they were grateful for whatever it was that was making their child happier and more pleasant to be around.

That was in the beginning though. Later, as the eating disorder started to take control of your kid, the gains dissipated and you were left with a shell of a child.

Does this look familiar? Once the eating disorder took over there was a battle at every meal, your kid had severe mood swings, he/she withdrew from activities that had once been enjoyable, and began to isolate from everyone. Your house went from a home to a war zone.

When you brought your kid in for treatment of their eating disorder, did you expect the war to end? Some parents have reported being scared, worn out and exhausted at the start of therapy, but hopeful that the battle was going to end. Then they realized they would need to take on the new roles of food monitor and treatment team member.

You should be exhausted! Fighting an eating disorder is exhausting!! Here are 3 tips for how to keep up the fight without losing your damn mind.

You Need Someone Too

Probably every book/website/flyer/article you have read about treating an eating disorder has told you that your child should see a counselor that specializes in eating disorders. This blog post is no different, because he/she should definitely see a specialist, but so should you!!

Eating disorders upend families and it is especially important if your child is still living in the house that you have a counselor who specializes in eating disorders to help you understand and coordinate with the treatment team through the treatment and recovery process, as well as allow you to process.

A treatment team consists of a physician, dietitian, counselor, and psychiatrist. Your counselor can be a liaison for you to coordinate with the treatment team, as this can be exhausting and frustrating for parents. Your individual counselor will be a safe place to get pissed off at the eating disorder, as well as practicing ways to support your child’s recovery.

Separate Your Kid from the Eating Disorder

However the eating disorder came about, it’s important to remember that your child did not want it to come to this. The angry, obsessive, manipulative person your child has become is because of the eating disorder.

When you get angry and frustrated, focus it at the eating disorder.

As the eating disorder grows stronger the healthy part of the person shrivels. Sometimes parents get angry because they think their kid isn’t trying to get better, but I like to remind them that their child may be incapable of trying at this point.

Encourage and nurture the healthy self. Save the anger and frustration for the eating disorder.

Self-care, self-care, self-care

Are you taking care of yourself during this time? You may be laughing while reading this.

Maybe you’re thinking something like: do you know what my life is like, how am I supposed to care for my child when my son/daughter is dying/sick/falling apart?

I get it and I hear you, but what help are you to him/her if you aren’t taking care of yourself.

It’s good to model self-care and boundaries for your child. Often times in individuals with eating disorders there is a lack of boundaries with others or internally. By modeling boundaries you are showing an example of how to respect your own limits and take action to care for your needs.

Self-care doesn’t have to mean an extravagant vacation to a resort spa. Self-care can be going for a walk, by yourself to clear your head and have some time to breathe. It could be going out to eat with your partner and not talking about the eating disorder.

Whatever non-destructive thing it is that will help refuel you for the fight, that’s self-care.

Still Needing Help

If you are in the Vancouver, WA area and looking for further support please head over to my website and schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me, here. I would love to find out how I can best support you.

If you are interested in more resources about eating disorders you can find them on my resources page here.


Tamara Werner

Tamara Werner is a counselor, author, speaker, and activist. Her private practice, Get Centered Counseling in Vancouver WA, helps women with food and body issues learn to love themselves, their body, their life, and their relationships. Her life’s work is steeped in personal experience, having fifteen years in recovery for anorexia, in addition to being a breast cancer survivor. An up and coming force in the counseling community, Tamara has been published in a textbook called Treatment Strategies for Substance and Process Addictions, and has sat on a panel at the American Counseling Association Conference, where she spoke to her peers on strategies and tools to use with clients struggling with eating disorders. Having a deep, personal understanding of what it takes to recover from this condition, she seeks to be an example to those she treats, to let them know that recovery is possible.