In this press release, Dr. Stacy of Every Woman Had an Eating Disorder, lists concrete ways parents can help develop positive body image and healthy eating in children. I won't type out the entire list, you can go to the link above for that. What I do like about what Dr. Stacy says is that even if you do all the things right, your child can still develop an eating disorder. (hint biochemistry here and cultural pressure) She says:
"What is most important is that parents need to recognize the signs and trust their instincts. Oftentimes, parents ignore early signs because they feel that this problem would be a bad reflection of their parenting and love for their child. If parents witness the signs and jump in early, they can get their child off a dangerous path. It can be a matter of life or death."
I think this is so true. I'll use myself as an example here. When I first began the wrath of an eating disorder, less than a year later (somewhere between 8-12 months, I can't remember the exact time), it was me who reached out to my mother, saying I really needed to see a doctor in an e-mail no less. She obliged my request. I saw a Dr., was honest, and then headed to see a therapist. Even though I acknowledged the problem and was uncertain of really getting better, the problem was at least out there. Later, my mother would tell me she suspected a problem but never said anything. Why, I don't know. It's such a touchy subject to broach, and even when it is, the likelihood of a teenager (or any eating disordered person of any age) giving a truthful answer is pretty bleak.
After awhile in therapy and leaking my guts out, talk of inpatient was mentioned. I was against this but a part of me knew it could have turned me around too. Essentially, my dad guilt-tripped me out of it (it would take all my savings, and only you can get better if you really want it), and thus, I never went. I don't blame my parents or anything for my eventual demise of ED hell for another 10+ years, but I do think had there been more push for intensive treatment at that particular time, (and this is of course not to say that inpatient would have cured me) just maybe my ED descent would not have lasted so long.
All those what ifs. That's all they are now. I rarely think about it honestly, knowing the past can't be changed. For now, I can only live in the moment and make choices for today.