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Welcome to the second episode of the Eating Disorder Insights Podcast where we are going to explore the often difficult task of raising your concerns with your child for the first time. Many parents share that they’re not sure how to approach this and worry about making things worse or feeling anxious themselves about what they will learn in the conversation with their child. A common feeling is doubt – doubting yourself or thinking that ‘I’m probably being silly’ or ‘it’s probably normal teenage stuff’..
Let me share something with you. If you have concerns for your child, it ISN’T silly. As a parent, it’s built in that we sense when there’s something wrong. Our gut feeling is triggered. Our ‘spidey sense’ tells us that something isn’t right. I want you to learn to trust your gut instinct. It’s rarely wrong, and even when it is, you should never dismiss it..
Let me put it this way. It’s better to ask the question and be wrong than to not ask the question and later find out you were right – especially when it comes to eating disorders.
How self aware are you? how do you manage your own feelings? In this episode i will help you to take a look at how you manage your own feelings and how this is crucial if you are going to be successful in getting along side your child.
Now, what about the question of ‘normal teenage behaviour’? Well, yes, there are a lot of changes that happen when your child hits those crucial years – choosing to be on their own more often, beginning to experiment with independence and asserting themselves with you, mood changes as their hormones start to surge, paying more attention to their appearance and valuing others’ opinions more (but not yours!). All of these changes are normal – but very different for every child – no two will navigate adolescence in the same way.
Who said parenting would be easy?
So the challenge for you is ‘how do I tell the difference between what is normal and what isn’t?’ – The straight answer is – its REALLY hard to – but it’s easier with the right help. That’s why it’s important to trust your gut feeling and to talk to your child and then see how you feel afterwards – what will your gut instinct say then?
BUT – despite all of your best efforts, it’s not guaranteed that your child will talk to you but your first approach is exactly that – a FIRST approach. It may take several attempts before your child feels safe to share their worries with you – but we will discuss this in detail in this episode. Eating disorders are complex illnesses – full of secrecy, fear and shame. Your child may have lots of reasons why they won’t share with you and paradoxically they may be desperate for help from you – so be persistent and don’t give up.
So what if your child is very resistant and is very clearly not willing to talk to you.. what next?
Good Question – and a very common one, as this can often be the case for many families. The first thing is DON’T GIVE UP – if your child responds in this way, then your gut feeling was spot on. Now, you don’t need your child’s permission or agreement to take them to see someone – despite what their new found sense of independence may tell you. If you’re in this situation, then you need to take the decision as a parent to seek a professional opinion.
So download this episode and have a listen.
Now, as I have said throughout this podcast – I absolutely welcome your thoughts, views and opinions. Have I missed something out or do you disagree with something I have said? do you have other suggestions that have worked for you as a family? Do you have a specific question that you’d like us to discuss (and when I say ‘us’ I mean you as listeners and me).
I want this to be a collaborative show that you as listeners can use to share your experiences and questions – I have some of the answers that I’m happy to share, but you will have a VAST amount of knowledge as families living with an eating disorder – something I have no direct experience of. Nobody has all of the answers, but together maybe we can work out a ‘good enough’ fit.
Beat have a fantastic page on their website about this very subject.. ‘Worried about a Friend or Family Member’. It’s a really good source of information..
So please – go to my Contact page and say hello – if nothing more than to let me know I’m not talking to myself – you can even leave me a voicemail, it’s THAT easy!