If your child has been stricken with an eating disorder, you will likely do a great deal of soul searching in the process of seeking treatment. Despite the strong research support for FBT relative to other treatments for adolescents and children, some parents (and clinicians) are initially reluctant to choose it. They have the impression that FBT is “punitive,” “harsh,” or just “too extreme.”
When I charge parents with the task of refeeding, I will sometimes see immediate signs of shock and reluctance, followed by something along the lines of, “We never considered ourselves that kind of parent.” These parents are often struggling with the notion of being in charge and implementing contingencies for eating (or not eating)…If this is a disease, how could it be fair to make privileges dependent upon eating, they ask. These questions are heartfelt, sincere, tinged with empathy, and, ultimately, misguided.
Misguided because an eating disorder rarely allows its host to choose health. You must choose for your child.
You are “that kind” of parent if you’re willing to do what it takes to save your child’s life. You are “that kind” of parent if you’re willing to suffer the fury of an eating disorder that faces extinction. You are “that kind” of parent if you love your child enough to put everything on hold to nurse him or her back to health. It’s heroic to be that kind of parent. Be proud.