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To the Mother of a Daughter with an Eating Disorder

pexels-photo-167704You remember holding your child, kissing her, cuddling her, whispering, “I love you.” You remember her running through the grass, laughing, with a constant smile on her face. You remember what it used to be like before ED (Eating disorder) came into her life.

Writing this I am almost tempted to say that ED is like a really bad boyfriend your daughter has. He’s powerful, manipulating, pervasive, and destructive. He has all the wrong intentions. He doesn’t know when to back off, stop abusing her, or telling her lies.

Everyday is a battle — you watch her struggle to get dressed, fight with her own body, avoid meals, and isolate. You watch your beautiful little girl begin to hate who she is. This beautiful angel that you, yes you, created.

But please, know this. You did not have any influence on her eating disorder. You did not cause this. You have nothing to do with this. ED is sneaky and can affect anyone at anytime. Blame society, blame the media, but don’t blame yourself.

You are doing the best you can to help her, hoping that she learns one day how truly beautiful she really is. You are doing everything in your power to show her love, keep her safe, and keep her happy.

ED is something that we try to prevent as professionals and mothers, but ultimately, we have no power over ED. It has a way of trapping our daughters, rendering them helpless, out of control, and in a constant battle.

But know this, it will get better. She can recover! Eating disorder recovery is very real. Seek professional help; a therapist, nutritionist, psychiatrist, doctor, support groups, etc.

Learn to take care of yourself too, Mom. You are just as sacred and beautiful as she is. Engage in self care; comfort yourself, pamper yourself, tell yourself those same lovely things you tell your daughter.

Show her that self care, self-love, and self-appreciation are real and possible. Show her that you truly care for you, so that she has that same permission to give it to herself.

No, you had nothing to do with this, but yes, you can help. Be patient, learn about ED, educate yourself, be kind to her and you, see a professional yourself, and love you too!

This will get better, please know that she does not want this. She hates every minute of ED controlling her. She wants to get better just as much as you want her to. Again, be patient.

Show her that love that you know. Give her permission to love herself. Practice together.

To the Mother of a Daughter with an Eating Disorder

Marianne Riley, MA, NCC, LGPC

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APA Reference
Riley, M. (2018). To the Mother of a Daughter with an Eating Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 19 Mar 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.