National Eating Disorders Association

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New here, 13 yr old daughter

Hello, I'm new to this site. My 13 yr old daughter has been seeing professionals for the past 8 months and things have hit a critical point where she now requires a residential setting. She hit a low at Thanksgiving when she got on a scale at her dad's home and since then she has been restricting, thrown up for the first time and must be monitored at all meals. Her eating disorder actually began at about age 9 but was not discovered until this past year. She has always had a tiny frame and been a picky eater. She was the one that brought the ED up to me after learning about eating disorders at school in a health unit last spring.

I'm a single mother to 4 (son age 21, three daughters 20, 17 and 13). My ex refuses to have anything to do with our daughter's treatment which makes things even more difficult. He's taken the stance that I've made this all up and he's refused to pay for his half of her treatment and refused to attend any of her appointments. I've taken a temporary leave of absence from work to collaborate with an attorney and my daughter's team to try to get her admitted if her father will not sign the admission papers. I went through a similar process with my ex 5 years ago when my son made a near-lethal suicide attempt at my home. Trying to get my son into treatment ended up in court. The legal aspects will work themselves out, somehow. I have faith in that.

The part that is tearing me up inside is that I don't know how to let my daughter go live away from home for months on end with strangers. She's my baby. I'm a registered nurse so I know the facts about anorexia. I know the mortality rates and such. But, I am terrified of having her in an environment that's not loving and nurturing. While I was in school 25 years ago I did rotations on all types of units, and when I saw young children in the psychiatric wards I remember thinking that they all must have come from terrible, tragic homes. My, how time changes perspective.

The prayer in my heart is that although my daughter will be apart from our home for a time, I want this to be a time of growth and change for her. I have successfully launched my three other children into the world, and this daughter will be able to do the same when she is ready. This will be a time for her to learn additional skills and I'll be learning, too. It will be a growing process for all of us.

There is just one place in our state that accepts our insurance and it doesn't have the best reviews. I worry inside but am trying to show her that it will be fine. She is asking for help and wants to get help. All good signs, I know.

Thank you for listening to a worried mother. I know I'm not alone.

Hi Hikingmom,

Hi Hikingmom,

Welcome to the forum! I am so sorry you are struggling through getting your daughter into a treatment program. I am not a mother so I don't have much experience with this, but I can imagine how difficult it is to think through sending a your daughter away from home.

I am sure many others here have struggled through similar decisions and had the same internal conflict though. I hope they can share their experiences with you.

I just wanted to say, you sound like an incredibly strong person and an excellent role model of strength for your daughter. She is lucky to have you by her side to work through this. Please keep posting and know that we are here to support you!


Hiking Mom

Hi Hikingmom,
I applaud you for getting your daughter help. It is so scary, overwhelming, exhausting, and can cause guilt. My daughter was 15 when we put her into a residential center for ED. We were both scared. She was angry, hurt, and scared. It was so hard to leave her there. One of the hardest things I have ever done. It also saved her life. It gave both of us new tools and skills to use. She was there for 2 months. She has been home for 18 months now She has had her struggles and she has made huge strides not only with her ED, but with friends communication, and healthy life skills. Putting her in an ED center was life changing for us.
The center she was at had family weeks and phone sessions with her councilor each week with us and our daughter. I struggled during some of those sessions. They were so emotional. If they have any program that you can get involved with, I would suggest you take advantage of them. It sounds like you already plan to take advantage of skills they will teach there.
Please take care of yourself. It is such a stressful time and can be so emotionally and physically devastating for a parent. Counseling for myself helped a lot. Also just doing nice things for myself each day. Also realizing that I could not cure the ED, she had to decide that. I can love, support, and guide her, but I cannot cure her. It took off a lot of stress off my shoulders when I realized that.
There is hope. Don't give up.

Thank you/Waiting/Patience

Thank you Liz489 and 2joy2love.


I think in patient treatment sounds like the right plan considering how long you have been working on the issue. Scary for you when they are so young. It's great that you have devoted yourself to helping her. Talk to the people at the centre, voice your concerns and see what they say. Could you,convince the father to talk to a specialist who can explain the issue and the possible consequences of this going untreated? The average person has no clue. Often family doctors are not well educated either.

i also have a 13 year old

i also have a 13 year old daughter ive been worried about. her pediatricians have dismissed all concerns. an internal med specialist was the opposite extreme, thinking she might need immediately hospitalized, and was alarmist in front of my daughter who was only 10 or 11 at the time, but didnt think it was an eating disorder. now my daughter has begged for help. she is agonizing over not growing, of being too skinny to find pants that fit, no boobs, one period and then no more. very picky eater. it is true we are all petite in this family, so people dismiss this as just automatically normal. thats a mistake. plenty of eating disorders appear in people of healthy weight or more. plenty die never having gotten boney at all. and she is being compared to a mother who, you guessed it, has had disordered eating for decades. im having a helluva time finding a professional first for her medical evaluation - i want a womens health/female puberty specialist that knows about eating disorders too, as well as a psychologist so she can have an advocate and emotional support aside from me. i do not know if she has an eating disorder nor do i want her labled as such incorrectly. too many young people are labeled and assume that is their entire definition. i am so glad you are seeking out and PUSHING for your daughters best interest. it is really hard when you feel in it alone, when the other parent doesnt even believe in it, like its the tooth fairy, for gods sake. stay in touch and youre both doing the right thing, mum and daughter.

Hey justjane.

Hey justjane.
It sounds like you're having a rough time of it.
I am, however, glad that you're so concerned and involved in your daughters life.
Like you said, its important not to jump to any conclusions. But from what I've heard, it does sound like a second opinion might be helpful. Additionally, if it does turn out that your daughter has an eating disorder and her health has/is being negatively affected because of it, you may be able to file a suit for malpractice against those pediatricians who dismissed your claims and stood in your way of getting your daughter treatment.
I'm not a lawyer nor a health professional, so do take what I say with a grain of doubt.

I looked around the NEDA website and found a few links that I thought might be helpful/relevant:

There is also the NEDA helpline (1-800-931-2237) which is available Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST). Its manned by trained volunteers who may be able to point you in the direction of more resources in your area.
Do feel free to make your own thread and update us on how things are going.



Im also a single mom with a

Im also a single mom with a newly diagnosed dauggter with ed. So scared for my dauggter and my insurance also not picking up any cost that ive found yet. At least i know others are going through the same. Not that i would wish this on anyone.

I'm new here as well

I just found out my 13 yr old daughter is purging and has been hating how she looks. I am so heartbroken and so lost. I am on the forum to gain more insight on this illness and better understand it. What tears my heart apart is that I can't make it better. I just pray to God that he will help guide us all through this. Prayers to all of you and your suffering love ones.

Hello and welcome Mamashita.

Hello and welcome Mamashita.
I'm sorry to hear that your daughter is suffering so. EDs can be difficult to handle, but it is possible to recover from them - granted action is taken. Your coming here may very well be the first steps towards her recovery.
You may be pleased to hear that there are a number of health professionals that can help. Of course her primary doctor may be a good place to start. There are also dietitians/nutritionists who can help you and your daughter come up with game plans for tackling ED. Additionally therapists who specialize in eating disorders also exist.
In the mean time here's a little NEDA literature that might help you get started in the right direction:

Unfortunately eating disorders aren't uncommon among girls her age. On the flip side, that means that there are a lot of resources, tools, and information on them.
I hope this helps somewhat. Best of luck and consider starting your own thread in the future.

- Adage

Thank you

This is quite helpful and will do more research. Thank you so much for this information


Glad to help.
And good to see you started your own thread.
As you can tell there's a lot of quality people with good info here.
Keep on keepin' on :)