National Eating Disorders Association

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Adult daughter support

Hi. My daughter is 29 and told me 3 weeks ago that she's going to an in-patient recovery center in Colorado. She also told me that she had been going to an out-patient facility in Ohio for a while and they recommended she go to Colorado. She has yet to tell me her diagnoses. She went out of her way to tell me that I am not/was not at fault. She worried that I would feel guilty and blame myself. She told me it was a a genetic predisposition triggered by stress. I've worried about her weight for a while and when I expressed my concerns, she always blamed stress. I'm very supportive of her choices and proud that she's taking action. Her husband is very supportive as well. I've been in contact with her via text almost daily, however, I feel such a disconnect. I would love to talk with her but she tells me the signal there is horrible. I'm not sure I buy that but I really have no choice. I'm struggling with what to do, how much to push for more communication and how much to back off. I also struggle with guilt. I've read through all of the warning signs of an eating disorder, I didn't see anything. I'm racking my brain trying to figure out what I missed. I'm also devastated at the thought of burying my daughter, my worst nightmare. I've visited multiple sites for information and it does help, however, I feel like I'm drowning. Any recommendations?

re: Adult daughter support

Hi trenttl03,

Welcome to the forums! So glad you are reaching out here for support--this is a great community and I know many other parents can relate to your struggle. Have you had a chance to peruse any of the other threads on this forum?

First off, please, please don't blame yourself. Those of us with EDs get very, very good at hiding our symptoms and behaviors. This is a mental illness with a lot of shame wrapped up in it, and the typical warning signs aren't always as easy to spot as you might think--especially if you live far away.

Second, you've come to the right place for advice on what to do. NEDA offers a bunch of resources for parents and other loved ones on how to start wrapping their heads around ED and providing the best support possible, beginning with the excellent Parent Toolkit: Here are a few other links you might find helpful:

General info on EDs (not sure how much research you've already done, but the first step is always understanding the beast):

Lots of great pages and guidance on how to help a loved one:

Remember that ultimately, this is your daughter's battle. It's such a positive sign that she's taking steps to get help and that she's open to communicating with you about it. I would suggest letting her set the boundaries and doing your best to respect them. It sounds like you're approaching this in a very healthy way--I'm sure she feels very grateful to have you in her life.

Hope this helps and please keep us posted. We're here for you.

Hey Trent


Eating disorders are everywhere these days it seems, and their causes can be varied, so as DTM said above, I'd try not to feel guilty about all this. Sure, everyone will say that, but still, I do hope you can set aside that part of your worries. Feeling bad towards yourself won't add anything positive to the mix, and holding on to a positive tone will be important.

Also as DTM said, it's probably best to let your daughter set whatever boundaries feel best for her at the moment. I might not say this if she was avoiding getting help, or not taking responsibility for her situation - It might be a different story then. But in this case it really does sound like she's taking the initiative for herself, and I can't tell you how important that is.

Your best bet in communicating with her will be to try and put yourself in her shoes I believe. While it's OK to do some positive cheerleading, it will help her believe that you "get it" if you show her that you understand some of the doubts and uncertainties that she must be struggling with too. If she trusts that you get it about that part, then you may find that the communication begins to get better.

Also, your concerns about feeling helpless are not uncommon either. We'd love to "take action" but what can we do ? The answer is not as much as we'd like to, so getting used to that, and not letting it drag you yourself down, will be part of your own task in this. Talk about guilt : People with EDs can be consumed with it themselves, and with worries about how their situation is impacting their family, and these worries just makes things all the worse for them. So setting forth a calm demeanor will be important too, even if that does involve a certain level of faking it.

You mentioned that you text her every day. Keeping things on the level with that will be important as well. There's that temptation to cheerlead I know, but think about other things which might be calming too. The crocus are coming up, all that snow was kind of a laugh - just normal mundane stuff can be helpful and reassuring too. You have a certain level of concern of course, you understand that things may be difficult for her, but…you're not freaking out. "Steady Eddy" you know ? That will be your best and most supportive stance.

Not that in private you don't get to be worried, because these matters are worrisome things. But it will be really important to not dump your own worries on her, so keep that part in mind as you write her.

I hope you can keep posting here as well, if it seems to help some I mean. Being alone with all this is nothing that anyone should have to deal with, so I do hope you can keep in touch.

Bob J


I think the answer on how much to push is: not at all.

She's on a good path, and she trusted you telling you about it, and she has thought about you and spare you the guilt. She sounds like a nice, clever woman. Now it's your time to trust her. I'm not that young, but I feel talking on the phone as something from the last century, uncomfortable and unnecessary, texting is always more convenient. Maybe this is the way for your daughter too, she feels safer this way. And anything you can do to make her feel safer, it's a win for both of you.

It isn't always fair, but she can't carry any of your burden, because her own is already too much.

Personally, I know my mother worries about me, but she would be even worse if she knew what's going on in my life with my GF and her kids, how my heart is broken every few days. She wouldn't want me to bear this cross, and she'd be worried all day. So I tell her very little, and I almost don't call her. I worry I might start crying as soon as I tell her anything meaningful.

Let her know she can reach to you anytime she wants, but let it be when she wants. Any pressure translates into stress, and stress into bad things. Your concern is more than understandable, and you're not doing anything wrong, but it can be far from what she needs right now, and she can't tell you because she doesn't know herself. She's not sure what she needs to do either.

Look on youtube for a video called "understanding validation in families. Fruzzetti." It's long, but I found it extremely helpful.

Thank you! Maybe I am old

Thank you! Maybe I am old school but I miss her voice:)

Thanks so much to everyone

Thanks so much to everyone who responded. My daughter did tell me her diagnoses last night, it's anorexia which I suspected. When I asked her how long she's been struggling with this disorder she asked, "does it matter?". I wanted to say yes it does but I couldn't think of a reason why other than to torture myself. So, I left it alone. For the most part, the communication with my daughter has been light. I do remind her to tell me what I can do to help her. I've had family members who have told me I should be more forceful. After reading your responses here and reading multiple articles on the subject, I'm glad I didn't listen to them. Thanks again, I appreciate the time you took to help:)



Good to hear that she was able to name her issue to you. Just being able to say it out loud, to those who you worry you might be a disappointment to…that's a big step in itself.

Good that you asked her how you might help. She may imply that there's no way you can help, but letting her know that you understand what a difficult step she is taking for herself will help. Anything that shows that you "get it" you know ?

Not that it's easy to get it about EDs, but the part about how they are difficult to face and overcome, and the personal doubts that people can struggle with, I think that's something we can all "get" on some level, from past difficulties we may have had ourselves.

Bob J.

Thank you Bob!

Thank you Bob!

Of course you miss her voice

I think it would be safe to tell her you miss her voice, together with "you don't need to do anything that makes you uncomfortable..." but maybe she can send you voice messages instead of texts sometimes...
I didn't pretended to call you "old school" I have a big anxiety issue with talking on the phone, and this WhatsApp generation gave me voice so I could interact with people more often. So it is really convenient for me that today it is considered appropriate. And when friends say "just call" I can say "dude, don't be such a 20th century grangpa" instead of "I can't, it terrifies me". But I can say that to friends, I didn't want to offend you.

Please, keep us posted, I hope your daughter can share with us some day a story of successful recovery.

No worries, you didn't offend

No worries, you didn't offend me at all:) I appreciate your perspective, candor and honesty. It sounds like you're doing well in your recovery and your success gives me hope. Thank you!


Just a quick note, because I don't want to mislead any one. The one with the ED is my significant other, but of course there are people who recover. At this website you can find some inspiring success stories. I can't find them now, after they changed the format. If someone does, please, share.