When you’re up against an eating disorder, it can be exhausting and bewildering to know what to do. You’re not alone, and your struggle is real. Here are some more of our tips for parents of teens with an eating disorder. Please visit our other tips in previous posts as well. See Part 1 and Part 2. We wish you all the best in your journey!
The Canopy Cove team
Part 4: Practical Tips (continued)
1. Lovingly break into your teen’s world
Nothing is worse than trying to talk to your teen and attempting to be a good listener, only to have them clam up and refuse to give more than monosyllabic answers. You love them, but sometimes it’s not clear how to show it and say it. Here are a few ideas for earning — and keeping — access to their world.
- Clear the air. If your teen has ceased to communicate with you, think back to the events that triggered that breakdown of trust. Be willing to be the one who initiates reconciliation. Even if you feel you were only 10 percent wrong and they were 90 percent wrong, be the one who apologizes, asks for forgiveness, and takes any possible steps to reverse any outstanding offenses. Let them see you being consistent at upholding your end of the commitment to change.
- Keep private things private. If your teen confides in you and then you tell your best friend about it on the phone, be very certain that your teen will never confide in you again. You have to be a safe repository of things that your teen considers to be a big deal.
- Be upfront. Tell your teen that you’re trying to break into their world. It can sound like this: “I care about you. I love you. I miss you. We haven’t been close lately, and I regret that things have caused us to drift apart. I want you to know that I’m going to begin to make a purposeful effort to get to know you again. I’m not going to force my way in, but I do intend to win your trust. Is there anything that I can do immediately to help this to happen?” Just hearing those words will be enough to soften some teens and set things on the right track. Be creative about what you can do to accomplish this and make them feel loved.
- Be supportive and non-judgmental. Even if certain things drive you crazy, blowing up or freaking out about them will only widen the divide.
2. Don’t forget to pray
You do not have to do this alone or in your own strength. The road to recovery in eating disorders is a long road with no quick fix, and you might feel like giving up sometimes. When you feel like it’s too heavy for you to carry, take it to the Lord and trust Him to work.
Canopy Cove is a Christian eating disorder rehabilitation center that specializes in anorexia recovery, bulimia recovery, and on-site, residential treatment for all types of eating disorders. Contact us today if one of your loved ones would benefit from our program. We look forward to helping you.