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The Role Parents Play in Eating Disorders

The Role Parents Play in Eating Disorders

To begin to really live again and experience life with all its textures of emotion, you need to search back into your past and find the pain that caused your anger. You must find the pain, and you must find out who caused the pain. All your life, you’ve been punishing yourself for the hurt caused by someone else.

Often the people responsible for the pain in your life are the people you love the most—in some cases, they may be your parents. As any child who loves his or her parents, you may have been shielding them from the responsibility for your pain by acting out your anger on yourself. Your anger becomes the stone you endlessly push up the mountain. But people need to be made responsible for the pain they cause. If they aren’t, they are doomed never to learn from their actions, forced to repeat those actions over and over with you or someone else. Often, the people who hurt you are not aware of the magnitude, or even the existence, of the pain you feel. It’s time they were told. It’s time you stopped taking responsibility for their actions.

Most parents, when faced with the truth of their child’s dysfunctional relationship with food, will not want the anger to stay with the child, causing further damage. When they raised you, they were probably doing it the best way they knew how. It’s likely they did not understand at the time what you were feeling. Often parents become so absorbed in their own reactions they are unable to recognize and appreciate those of the child.

It’s scary to anticipate this revelation of old anger and pain. If you thought you could tell your parents how you feel, then you probably would have done so already. If your feelings were never allowed expression as a child, you may have great reluctance to be open in the present. Confrontation is rarely pleasant, but your pain needs to be expressed openly, honestly, and outwardly, no matter how far in the past it originated.

The roots of your dysfunctional relationship with food go deep into your past. You need to allow that past to come to the surface so that you can look back at the experience of your childhood, now that you are an adult, and put your life into perspective. As a child, you couldn’t understand what was happening to you. As an adult, you must. Only then can your healing go forward.

If you are ready to confront the pain in your past and begin healing from your eating disorder, then call The Center • A Place of HOPE at 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166. Our team of world-class eating disorder specialists will answer your questions, and help guide you down a path to recovery.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Hope Help & Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.

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