Parents of those affected by ED tend to take an ultimately defensive stance that seems to pass through stages: unaware, suspicious, denial, frightened, acceptance, caregiver and then finally advocate. There is no scientific data reflected here, just observation and experience.
As one passes through the phases, the gravity of the condition affecting our children becomes more and more clear. This is not a phase or a temporary situation. This is a life long struggle that our children will need to battle for their entire lives.
The role of caregiver is the first point at which you will take an active role and is a slippery slope. You will want to manage every aspect of his or her life protecting them from anything that could negatively affect self-esteem. This may be exactly what your child needs as they begin understanding their condition, keep in mind that you also need to begin preparing your child to grow into a self-sufficient and strong adult.
As your child begins to take an active role in their treatment, the parent begins migrating to the role of advocate. This is where you will begin to back away allowing your child to learn self-management You will begin to provide more of a supportive role by encouraging them during periods of struggle and setbacks rather than preventing these events. It is a difficult step to take but essential to your child’s self-sufficiency.
I recently read a comment where a victim of ED stated that although she was in her sixties and had not had a significant issue in many years, she was not recovered, she was in recovery. Much like other more mainstream conditions, ED recovery is a continuous process, not a finite program.
There is a growing recognition of the depth and wide spread impact of ED. As a result, there is a growing body of knowledge about causation and treatment. One recurring theme is that the victim of ED must accept responsibility for their own recovery. Others will help, guide and support but they must own their role in the process.