My 20 year-old daughter has ED’s and had a trigger that sent her in a tale spin the other day. Her 9 year-old sister had a friend over that had made a comment why she couldn’t fit into her pants…”because SHE was too skinny.” These comments I guess tormented my oldest daughter growing up. What do I do so these type of comments don’t start this same ED thought process in my child. I’m thinking of not allowing her to socialize with this little girl…she seems to be very obsessed with herself. Help?
I’m sorry that you have had to undergo the pain and frustration of dealing with a daughter with an eating disorder. Clearly, however, it has made you more sensitive to remarks and circumstances as you raise your younger daughter.
You are the most important role model for your nine-year old. By being comfortable in your own skin and positive about your own body, you can help instill those values in her. You can reassure her of how wonderfully made she is, and marvel together at the variety of body types and shapes and sizes in the world. You can show her how to eat in a healthy way, without being obsessed, in order to take care of her amazing, unique body.
Also important, you can teach your daughter media awareness and point out our culture’s very narrow view of beauty. Contrast that with what she sees around her and teach her that she doesn’t have to try to fit into that mold.
We all wish we could protect our children from insensitive and even inappropriate remarks. Your daughter’s friend is young and obviously getting the wrong messages from home. Perhaps you could gently talk to her mom and describe the difficult journey you’ve been through with your older daughter. Tell her you are concerned about her daughter’s attitude, and don’t want their family to go through the pain you’ve endured. The article “Eating Disorder Warning Signs” might help guide your discussion. So rather than cut this friend out of your daughter’s life, you can be the voice of experience and do something positive for both of them.
You may also be interested in a book I’ve written for preteen girls: Big Thighs, Tight Jeans (Should Jan Go on a Diet?). It is geared towards girls of all sizes, promoting a positive body image and healthy eating without obsession. I’d recommend that you sit with your daughter and read it together, so that you can discuss the important points.
You’re a good mother for trying to be careful, but find a place of balance. God can use your pain to help others.