Posted by: Ask Arden | December 18, 2009

For Moms:Tackling Your Teenage Daughters Eating Disorder

As a Psychotherapist and Eating Disorder Specialist, I have seen so many vulnerable teenage females that have succumed to an Eating Disorder.
The beginning is innocent enough. I hear, I just have to lose a few pounds. Sound familiar? Maybe it sounds like you Mom? So what’s the connection here? Well our daughters watch us like hawks. So if we are uncomfortable with our body and self criticise ourselves a bit too much, like my thighs jiggle, my butt is too big, if only I was more toned than I’d like myself more, I must go on a diet, well than we open our daughters to begin to develop negative body image and perhaps, down the road an eating disorder.
We are now on our fourth matriarchial generation of eating disorders.

The road to the development of an eating disorder can start with some food avoidance, an obsessional preoccupation with fat and weight loss, over emphasis on appearance, perfectionism and for some starvation that could lead to life threatening bulimia and anorexia. These teens do not think they are harming their bodies. Their minds become flooded with negativity and the eating disorder starts to take control over their thoughts and life!

The saddest part has been for me to witness Moms who have felt incredibly responsible, inadequate and guilt riddled seeing their daughter wasting away in front of their eyes. Some of the Moms I have seen have an undiagnosed eating disorder as well. Both mother and daughter feel shared feelings of helplessness, sadness, frustration and anger.

It’ so very painful to witness your daughter behaving so “out of character.” These daughters are people pleasers, feel lost, confused and try to control their world via their eating disorder. The ED or EDNA, as I call it, becomes something like a friend, always there, won’t let her down, and she can always turn to it for comfort. You can begin to see how insidious this dis-ease can be.

One gal in my practice still recalls how upset she was with her Mom putting her on a diet in 6th grade. She aways felt Mom put her appearance well above her love and acceptance of her as a whole person. Mom has still not gotten over her guilt because after a number of years of psychotherapy for anorexia her daughter still struggles with a very low body weight.

Everyday for a young female in recovery is a struggle. So what’s a Mom to do?
From the very start Mom try to focus on your daughters inner beauty, intelligence,compassion, sense of humor, her personality and talents. You can complement her on her appearance, but do not overemphasize.
Focus on a love and acceptance of her inner and outer self, a self and body acceptance.

Give her verbal affirmation, validation, recognition, hugs and kisses and your blessings every day. You are very special to me and your Dad.

Alert her to how media magazines, print ads, her teen role models, TV shows, lyrics to some songs, over exaggerate size, skinniness and perfection.

Be a healthy role model. Walk your talk. How we treat ourselves, what she hears us say about our body can leave a lasting impact. Please watch your self critical remarks about your body and what you say to others.
Treat your own self and body with tender loving care. Be mindful that she is always watching us like a hawk.

Mindful, healthful eating, guilt free, getting enough sleep and over all wellness of mind, body and spirit is the message we want to give to our daughters. I still create opportunities with my twenty year old daughter, Samara, to remind her of her health and welfare. You are special to me and Dad and we so want you to take great care of yourself etc.,

Moving from being self preoccupied, which to some degree is normal for a teenage female, to giving to others in the form of volunteering helps pull her out of herself. A number of teens in my practice have found this to be very helpful.

Moms, take heart, I am in your corner and I hope my latest posting will comfort and guide you to have a better connection with your teenage daughter and circumvent negative self and body image and an eating disorder.

Much Blessings,
Arden

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Responses

  1. I invite you to check out my Eating Disorder Video in my Blg Posting for signs of the development of an eating disorder in your teenage daughter. This video is on my web in my media section as well.
    Don’t forget to love your daughter unconditionally for who she is.

    Wishing you a wonderful and peaceful 2010.
    Arden


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