National Eating Disorders Association
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Parents & Caregivers

“Dear Melody” is an advice column by Dr. Melody Moore, a clinical psychologist, yoga instructor and the founder of the Embody Love Movement Foundation. Her foundation is a non-profit whose mission is to empower girls and women to celebrate their inner beauty, commit to kindness, and contribute to meaningful change in the world. Dr. Moore is a social entrepreneur who trains facilitators on how to teach programs to prevent negative body image and remind girls and women of their inherent worth.

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I know you love your daughter, and this may be hard to hear, but I’m concerned about how she feels about herself.

You’ve raised someone who is very strong and level-headed. You may think she engages in irresponsible activities, but going out on her own and exploring new experiences is normal for a young woman.

She doesn't mean to get herself into dangerous situations, and when it does happen, getting punished or yelled at will not work.

She needs to be heard.

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A woman I treated often described it as the key “roadblock” to her recovery, a seemingly larger-than-life barrier that prevented her from making it to the other side of her eating disorder. She could envision what awaited her, a life rich with wellness and meaning, but she couldn’t see a way around this boulder lying in her path. 

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I consider myself extremely blessed to have a good relationship with my father. After my parents' divorce, physical distance has become more common, but if anything, I’m lucky to have grown closer to him. As a result of the separation, my dad was out of the house before I first entered treatment for my anorexia, but he’s been a teddy bear of support ever since.

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Eating disorder recovery can be a battle. You need to be well-armed with courage, heart, patience and a strong army of supporters. In honor of Father’s Day, we asked our NEDA community members to share how the men in their lives (fathers, brothers, stepdads, grandfathers, etc.) stood by their side in recovery.

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Dad, 

I remember when I was five years old. You took me to my elementary school parking lot on a sunny, warm evening to teach me how to ride a bike. I remember us staying in that wide, open parking lot until I was riding circles around you. The picture we have from that day, where I have the biggest smile on my face, proves just how proud I was of myself and how you never let me give up. 

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With Father’s Day approaching, I can think of no better gift than a conversation with my daughter, Anne. This wasn’t always the case. Not long ago, my conversations with Anne were punctuated by my own frustration and fear. I didn’t understand Anne or her eating disorder. Fearful that I would say something that would upset my daughter, I avoided important topics. We never talked about issues that really mattered to each of us. And yet, we spent lots of time and energy talking.

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A best friend is always there for you. They will make you laugh until you cry, support you through late nights of studying and working, motivate you to not give up, and they’ll come running to your side no matter the time of day. They allow you to let your true colors shine with no shame or judgment. A best friend is your other half; they complete you. 

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During the safety demonstration on airplanes, the flight attendants always remind passengers flying with children to apply their own oxygen mask before they place one on their child. Why? You need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Being a caregiver for an individual with an eating disorder is not always an easy task. Your primary goal is to look after that person and provide them with an infinite amount of care, love, and support. It’s important to remember that caregivers also need support and to practice self-care.

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Knowing the right thing to do or say is not always easy, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to navigating eating disorders. In fact, the “right thing” to say one day may be the “wrong thing” to say the next. It is a challenge both for the individual battling an eating disorder and their support system. 

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