One of the most important jobs parents have is to ensure the health and wellbeing of their children. That means doing all they can to ensure their children do not become involved with alcohol or drugs and making sure they eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
On balance, this sounds an easy job, but many parents, no matter what they do or say, cannot prevent their children from trying chemical substances such as alcohol or drugs. Even getting their children to have a healthy lifestyle may not be as easy as it sounds. These days, many youngsters are becoming obsessed with food to the point where they are developing eating disorders.
And while many parents believe that drugs and alcohol are the worst things their children can become involved with, the parents of a child with an eating disorder will tell you that this type of addiction can be deadly and heartbreaking to watch.
Any addiction can cause devastation to those affected as well as the people who love them. The parents or carers of someone with an eating disorder will experience feelings of despair as they struggle to get their child to overcome this destructive illness that is sapping their energy and destroying their health.
Eating disorders can include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, all of which cause a number of potential physical and mental health problems. The issue for many parents is that it can be difficult to spot an eating disorder until it has been well established and is at the point where it is extremely difficult to break the cycle.
Many parents mistake the signs of an eating disorder for being a fussy eater. Those who want to control their food intake will do so in a way that could be construed as being particular about certain foods, making it difficult for parents to recognise that this is a cause for concern. Some anorexics, for example, may decide to become vegetarians so that they can limit the amount of calories being consumed. Nonetheless, a teenager deciding to give up meat is not always a sign of an eating disorder.
What Causes Eating Disorders
Very often, the parents of a child with an eating disorder will blame themselves. Nevertheless, the reason for one person developing an eating disorder may be completely different to the reason another person does. For some children, all it will take is one negative comment regarding their appearance to spark a destructive eating disorder. Yet another child who encounters similar comments or teasing may not be affected at all.
In some cases, eating disorders are the result of a traumatic experience. Those who are the victims of bullies or who have been physically or mentally abused may develop an eating disorder, but the truth is that the causes are not always obvious.
How Parents Are Affected
It is devastating to watch a child deal with an eating disorder, and it is common for parents to blame themselves. They may spend hours raking over past events trying to find the cause and wondering if there was anything that could have been done to prevent it. They may make themselves ill worrying about their child, and they may experience intense feelings of guilt about not being able to protect the child.
It is important, therefore, that parents are treated as well as the child. Here at Rehab Helper, we know how eating disorders can affect entire families. We understand the pain and suffering it causes, and we are here to help.
If you or someone you love has been affected by an eating disorder, call us today for advice and support.