When it comes to protecting our children from the dangers of the world, most parents are vigilant. They’re proactive. They start talking to their children about the perils of drugs, alcohol, and casual sex at an early age because those perils have been around since the beginning of recorded history. What many parents don’t fully realize, however, is that there is a relatively new danger lurking very close to home. One expert says that unbeknownst to them, parents are in the midst of a crisis.
More and more adolescent girls
have fallen into the grips of an eating disorder. One doctor tells of a12-year-old girl that was taking 50 laxatives a day, participating in extreme dieting, and secretly binging and vomiting. More times than not, the parents don’t have a clue this is going on in situations like these
. They may have an inkling that there is a problem, but they don’t realize the severity. And most parents don’t want to appear too controlling. Or make the problem worse. Or ruin their relationship with their child.
This unawareness can’t continue because eating disorders are quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon
. In order to battle them there has to be a call to arms. When it comes to food, weight, and body image, active parenting cannot wait. How to be proactive in the fight against eating disorders.
Just as parents talk to their children about the hazards of drinking and driving or smoking, they need to talk about eating disorders and how dangerous they are. Here are a few suggestions to begin. Help your child express his or her feelings.
Ask questions such as what was she feeling inside when she ate an entire box of cookies, or when he chose to skip lunch. Be genuinely curious about how she feels about her body. Also, find opportunities to talk about how skipping meals will actually give her the opposite result of what she wants because those behaviors disrupt metabolism.Empower children with the responsibility for what they eat.
Encourage healthy eating, but don’t be afraid to allow your children the occasional treat. If you insist that “all sugar is bad” they may develop a fear or a negative feeling toward certain foods, which can turn into something more serious down the road.Explain the sacrifices.
It’s okay for kids and teens to be afraid of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating in the same way that they are afraid of the consequences of smoking and drunk driving. After all, the ultimate consequence can be death.
And finally, if you think your child is developing an eating disorder, bring it up
. This is one problem that is not likely to get better on its own.
One of the worst things a parent can do is to engage in self-blame and worry that they’ve made too many mistakes. As most parents will tell you, guilt comes with the territory. However, blaming yourself only leads to paralysis, not a solution.
In this society of severely twisted views about eating and body image, protecting one’s kids means constant awareness and communication. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work and parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual. However, it does come with enough love to conquer most anything.