National Eating Disorders Association
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Parents & Caregivers

Everyone has something good inside. Some hide it, some neglect it, but it is there. -Mother Teresa

I still think "self confidence" is one of the most important life skills. Self confidence means that I know my worth and innate goodness even if I've disappointed myself or others. And even if genetics, culture, personal experiences, and environment test me, I'll focus on being good to my self because it matters.   

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I will never forget when, as a young teen, I was told by my mother’s friend, “You have legs just like your dad’s.” Many decades later I can still hear her voice and feel the sting and confusion her comment stirred in me.

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I came from a dysfunctional family. My mom was a prescription drug addict, an alcoholic, and sick all of the time. She was also a compulsive overeater. My father was a very violent man. When I was just a little five-year-old, I witnessed his violence in a really traumatic incident. After this event, I can consciously remember the start of my eating disorder when I was a child. Throughout my early life and into adulthood, I had issues with food.

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“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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