F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

Welcome to F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum. This is a free service provided for parents of those suffering from eating disorders. It is moderated by kind, experienced, parent caregivers trained to guide you in how to use the forum and how to find resources to help you support your family member. This forum is for parents of patients with all eating disorder diagnoses, all ages, around the world.

Join these conversations already in progress:
• Road To Recovery - Stories of Hope
• Events for Parents and Caregivers Around the World
• Free F.E.A.S.T Conference Videos

Visit the F.E.A.S.T website for information and support.

If you need help using the forum please reach out to one of the moderators (listed below), or email us at bronwen@feast-ed.org.

My daughter will be turning 26 in 3 weeks.

As most of you know, she is on the long and rocky road to recovery from anorexia and other behavioral health issues - diagnosed and otherwise.

We have been on this journey with her for nearly 5 years now.

Her bio dad, her bonus dad and I have invested much money, time and made many sacrifices to help her get well and on track to recovery and onto a successful life.

When we found that she was in dire straits with the anorexia while at university, we got her into IP treatment. She has been in five different treatment places. We have spent a small fortune on her - treatment, therapists, nutritionists, you name it. She had 20 sessions of CBT for her social anxiety, 2 years of talk therapy, now exposure therapy, etc. etc. etc. We have paid for many, many months of a recovery yoga coach and a nutritional coach.

The last treatment place she left was in July 2010; she was fully weight restored and managed to get a retail job (which she continues to work at) and she maintained her weight for more than 20 months while living home with us.

We went to an FBT therapist in hopes of getting her to the next level and on the pathways to independence, relapse prevention and hoped that she would get the cbt or dbt therapy that we bargained for.

Moving forward didn't happen; in fact, we had relapse.

Going from blind to open weighing our daughter without providing therapeutic support (among other things) was too triggering for her and resulted in a relapse.

Her bio dad did not know her weight until we went to the open weighing.

He told me that he was "shocked" to find out "how high" her weight was.

For months, driving her back and forth to the FBT, they got into discussions about the weight. He asked me (and ED professionals) to produce 'evidence' to support the idea that she COULD be a lower weight. Well, unfortunately, he got his 'evidence' in his own daughter's relapse.

We continue to try and help her get the 5-7 pounds up to restore her to her healthy target range. But now he is burning out and frankly, so are we (myself and my husband).

She is bright young woman, high achiever in high school and at university, but now what we have on our hands is someone who has become comfortable with going through the motions and failing to launch her life.

She has not had to launch her life or take ownership of management of her disorders.

Why? Her parents have done most everything for her.

She has become comfortable using us to solve her problems for her.

She alternates between her bio dad's home and ours.

At neither place does she have any really firm boundaries.

She pays no rent anywhere yet she earns money at her near full time job.

Her dad pays for therapy and we split the cost of the coaches.

We pay for her food.

The only thing that she really pays for is her car insurance and personal spending.

In essence, we have allowed her 'being sick and needing help' to stand in the way of her growth.

We parents have now seen the insanity of this.

Part of her staying 'sick' may be that by being 'sick' she doesn't NEED to grow up and take responsibility for her own actions and for her life.

She is fully functional at work - both in retail and at my office.

But at home, she turns into a helpless person.

I don't want to see her become the 'sick girl living in her parents' basement'.

She makes limited attempts at improving her work situation, although she says that she wants to - she was offered a good paying office job in my company, tried it for a few days, loved the work, and now she changes her mind.

She makes limited attempts at socializing and building relationships with people.

She does yoga but with no discipline attached to practices.

Her recovery coach gets frustrated with her because she is 'hot and cold' on yoga practice and her other life skills home work assignments.

She has trouble regulating her emotions, but will not seek DBT therapy to help herself. She sees a therapist but really just 'goes through the motions' most of the time.

We are thinking about giving her some options about housing, managing her own life and recovery, and setting boundaries for her.

I think the lack of boundaries is what drives my husband the most crazy.

Any suggestions from those of you with adult children, Carrie or others?

Any input that you have would be most appreciated.

Should we do this with the help of her therapist or family therapist?

Cathy V.
Southern California
My Dear SL - I feel so sad reading your post.  I know all you and your D have been through and the obstacles you have faced.  I know that I was where you are four years ago having seen my D live a life with her ED from age 13-22 - with no hope that she could recover.  I felt like we were failures and that she didn't want to get better.

Boy was I wrong and I attribute all to her need for accurate and full weight restoration first and foremost.  You were making progress with your D until she had that relapse and she's been stuck there for a year I believe.

The problem with all the money spent on therapies that are not helpful is that it makes us angry and feel like "Why isn't she able to get better with all I'm providing?"

But the reality is that therapists who don't really understand eating disorders, only serve to perpetuate them.  

What your D has needed after the last relapse was to get her accurately and fully weight restored again, so she can maintain it, and her brain can heal.  Then she can benefit from therapy and learn coping skills for life.  She can learn to take risks and find things she wants to do - what her real passion is.

Four years ago, I never thought my D had much of a chance for a life without her ED.  I felt that she would always need my help in some way.

She's made tremendous gains in the past year - some of it with my help but in a different way - because I do believe that when someone has been ill for a long time, they feel that the main people in their life (parent/s) are the most important to them.

My D learned to trust me and I believe your D is in the same position - because she knows you are the primary parent who will push for WR.   And, yes, that is the main goal for your D now

She needs to get back to her accurate and fully WR range before she can do any of the other things you are hoping she can do as an independent young adult.

It really does not matter what age she is - because the goal is always the same

First step in treatment is accurate and full weight restoration
Second step is maintaining that weight for brain healing and learning to eat fully independently
Third is learning coping skills and finding age appropriate outlets.

I understand your sorrow, fear, and disillusionment.  But your D has been with bioDad who kept her weight far too low for far too long.

If there is a way to talk with her current therapist to come up with a good solid plan to help your D get back on track for recovery - then you might feel less hopeless.

Sending you strength, hope and lots of hugs 
WenWinning (formerly wenlow) - a Mom who has learned patience, determination, empathy, and inner strength to help her young adult daughter gain full remission after over a decade of illness and clinician set inaccurate weights

I am technologically challenged, and tired, tonight so will post more fully tomorrow.

I just wanted to say that we too are facing a similar situation. Our daughter is 26. She lives at home, largely in our back bedroom. She doesn't contribute to the family finances. She doesn't contribute much to the household chores. She doesn't work either and has just been judged as unfit for work by the state but given no assistance and pointers as to what she/we are supposed to do about making her fitter.

I too would welcome suggestions on how we can help her through stage II and III, bearing in mind that we were pretty rotten at Stage I but finally seem to be sort of getting there.
Fiona Marcella UK
Maybe time for a Dr. Ravin column on Successful Launching??  She's always got good thoughts and might be persuaded to write them down.

Seminarlady and Marcella I dont have the answers for you but feel every word you have posted. It is soooo much harder with older Ed sufferers. We too often feel as though we are tip toeing on egg shells around D who has no boundaries around her behavior. I think our children do revert back into this sense of helplessness as they are often so consumed with anxiety that the moment they get home it is a safe place and they know we love them unconditionally. Our nearly 19 yr old D 's unacceptable behavior towards he dad and I was horrible during the Xmas/Jan period to the point where I actually had to leave the home. We tried contracts , open discussion and setting boundaries to no avail. I read in a previous thread about relapse how "taking ownership" of ED assisted with the recovery process. I still don't know exactly what this means and how one goes about helping our young adult children achieve this. All I know is that we have been "lucky" enough for D to gain  weight again and we are seeing a slight shift in behavior. D is starting to feel a bit more confident in starting her university course this year(we are only 20 mins away from her university) and is going really well with her part time work.BUT at present always this sense of helplessness and no contribution to the household/family what so ever. ARGH!!!! Will be watching replies for any ideas. thank you for your post
“A diamond is a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” – Unknown
Maybe I am going off on one here but is this a more deep philosophical question than it appears?  There have always been "stay at home" children, those who do not launch into stellar careers or marry a Duke or some such.  Indeed, in Italy, sons don't leave home (or contribute to the household) until they are in their 30's, these days.  There always seems to be a spinster aunt in novels, who remains within the household, doing the mending and nursing their parents in their old age.

Are we measuring them by modern-day post-feminist standards?  Are they practising their own self care by remaining in the family home where they feel secure and able to inch forward in recovery?  Are we setting standards too high for them?

Not that I don't have an enormous amount of sympathy with all of you and understand your frustration but, living in a slightly surreal "Bevan enclave" here, where the whole of my h's immediate family lives in a 2 mile radius (and, yes, I know all the jokes about the Ewings!), I don't find it that all strange for children to remain "at home" until they are much older.  Should we be considering granny annexes for them?

(Getting off soap box, putting on tin hat and heading towards the bottom of the garden.....)
Mother, wife, farmer, C of C and M Productions
I don't have any answers either but wanted you to know how much I admire your strength and courage.  I have followed your story for a long time.  I wonder about chipping away at this one step at a time. For example, you might decide between you all that your d gradually start taking more financial responsibility for herself (buying gas, food or paying for housing).  Our d has moved out but we pay for almost everything right now.  We did tell her that if she's moving out she would need to take responsibility for her rent right now.  I guess our plan is to gradually require her to take more control and responsibility over time.  All my best.
I agree with you 100% Charlotte.  In many cultures people do live at home into their 30's and when they are ready to get married.  Isn't that the way in Italy?

We have also had a huge shift here in the States due to the economy where young people can't get jobs after college or at least high enough paying jobs to support their own place and other expenses.

I can't remember the percent, but it's pretty high where young adults have moved back into their home.  something like 60 %

What we did with my D who is around SL's D's age was to encourage independent behaviors while living at  home.
That included doing chores, helping to pay part of the expenses, etc.  

My D lived at home throughout her recovery until she was strong enough to move on her own and had been WR/maintained long term.  She worked on her comorbid condition with a wonderful trauma EMDR therapist.  She worked at a job she liked to develop skills  and prepare her for her current schooling.
She took some classes to get her brain working again.  

In other words, I used the time at home to keep it a peaceful place so she could recover and gain these skills at the same time.  She worked on social anxiety and other issues while at home to prepare her for when she would go out on her own one day because that was her goal.

But this is all really difficult as we all know when the brain is malnourished it is hard to think clearly.
I love the idea of chipping away at one thing at a time, to solidify that gain and then move on to the next.  Somehow when we expect too many things at once, nothing gets accomplished for them to internalize the gain.

I found that the best I could do to help my D was to talk things over with her to encourage her own problem solving and finding solutions, plans, etc.

What we found was that tackling one thing at a time in a very consistent way for fear extinction was what helped my D who was full of fears and avoidant of tackling them.

It takes time, patience, and changing of our expectations.

In this world we live in - there are too many Shoulds to keep up with others and I feel that all of our children's situations are unique.  Meeting them where they are helps to gain acceptance and lessen our frustration.

But it always starts with full and accurate WR
WenWinning (formerly wenlow) - a Mom who has learned patience, determination, empathy, and inner strength to help her young adult daughter gain full remission after over a decade of illness and clinician set inaccurate weights
I know that the ED and co-morbids are often a tangled knot, but is it your impression that this specific phenomenon is largely anxiety-driven? That is what it sounds like to me. Our D struggles mightily with anxiety, and especially social anxiety, and she often expresses despair and worry that it will never get better. As a matter of philosophy/principle, she would be welcome to stay in our home forever, if it comes to that, but I would worry that (1) she would feel unfulfilled and unhappy with that life, which is surely not what she had hoped for herself; and (2) I would worry about her future, for the time when H and I might not be here to provide for her. I am guessing that this is much of what is worrying you as well. I wish I knew an answer, but I think that all you can "require" someone to do is the tangible stuff - maintain a certain objective weight, attend appointments, etc. You can't make them want to expend the effort, endure the discomfort and pain, fight against their urges, etc. And I think that battling massive anxiety is in fact enormously painful and difficult. It probably requires that a person gather strength and confidence before they feel ready to face it. I think that is where the insight, desire for recovery, and ownership of recovery must come into play. That has to come from inside. I have to believe that if they maintain physical health, stay engaged in a loving family, and continue to have opportunities to get help, they will find their way when the time is right for them. Thinking of how I might handle this if we are in this position in future yerars, I know I will have to battle my own worries, instinctive tendency to push and force the result or schedule I consider best.

Here is where the AA/12 step mentality for families makes some sense to me. Take care of yourself, remain loving and strong but don't be an enabler, trust in the higher power and let the other person find their way because you can't control all of this. You have been heroic and loving but you are not omnipotent. I think the story has a happy ending, but some of it must be authored by the patient.

I don't mean to sound anything but loving and commiserative. I am very much imagining myself in your shoes and thinking how my wise mind might speak to me. XO
"Love. That was what she had that IT did not have." - Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
Thank you all.

You have given me much to think about.

Without trying to be overly critical, my ex husband/daughter's bio dad's involvement in her recovery seems to be the common denominator for things going off course and recovery being so elusive.

Anyone who has followed our story knows the challenges that I have had.

When we first learned that daughter had anorexia, it took my husband and I so long to convince my ex that she needed treatment.
He wanted no part of that idea.

She moved in with him and due to a medical emergency and much prompting from us, she got into treatment.
She was IP for 3 months and once discharged at 80 percent of weight, her dad approved her to go ADO back to university.
It was a disaster. She went back IP in 3x worse shape than the first round.

Once she was out of treatment, her bio dad didn't want her to come back home to us because our home was 'too triggering'.
He didn't even want her to live in the same city as us, so I compromised and had her live with my mother while she went to IOP.
My dear mother kept her on track for nearly 2 months.

So then he finally 'allowed' her to come home to us.

For nearly 2 years, we got her back on track.

He saw her for one dinner a week during that time.

Once we decided that she needed the next step - pathways to independence, cbt/dbt, relapse prevention - we all went as a family to an FBT.

Big mistake.

He drove her to and fro to the FBT who did open weighing.

Both daughter and ex were 'shocked' to find out about her 'too high weight'.

He seemed to be moved shocked than she was.

For months, he debated me over the weight and said that it wasn't 'normal' for her to be that high.

So the triangulation began all over again.

She wanted to live with him for awhile. He was convinced that he could get her back up in weight.

It was a disaster (as always).

She has dropped at least 7 pounds.

He has just bought a house in the mountains miles away from here.

His goal is to get an apartment here for the two of them and without several months, get her to live there on her own.

Right now  she is staying with us.

Once again, my husband and I are the 'clean up crew'.

I am getting weight on her again. She is up a pound this week and eating the food I serve.

All the foods that bio dad tells me that 'she won't eat' she is eating with us.

By the way, her bio dad insists that she can gain weight on 2,100 calories.

I try to tell him that she MAINTAIN a healthy weight on 2,500 calories.

I am absolutely convinced that this nightmare would have been over for us all had bio dad stayed out of the picture.

This is my biggest frustration.

As long as my daughter has a 'safe haven' and ED has an 'ally' with bio dad, recovery seems so elusive.

By the way, my daughter has been with us all week and has never mentioned her bio dad one time.

PS - He sent me an email last night telling me about the apartments that he looked at yesterday.
He wants to spring the idea on daughter today.

The other problem that I have is that my husband / her bonus dad has had it up to his eyebrows all of this.

Wenlow gave me an idea to add an extension on to my house to keep the peace until daughter is back on track.

I am so not sure what to do any more.

PS - Bio dad is bone thin, and that is another problem. Our family therapist asked him if he thought that his own body shape and body image might contribute to our daughter thinking that she needs to be that thin, too. He admitted that our daughter told him ... "I wish that I had YOUR abbs."

Cathy V.
Southern California

I don't have experience with a YA but I want to address the cultural element because I am Hispanic and lived in South America until I was 18. I also spent several months in Southern Europe and found it to be very similar to South America.

It is true that from a Western perspective, children in many cultures have a "failure to launch". However, I don't think it is the same as what SL is describing. 

In these cultures, there is a HUGE chasm between the expectations placed on men and women in the home and there is also a tremendous gap between the expectations of people who are upper and middle class and people who are poor. Taking into account those variables, YAs in those cultures are active participants in the family life. This may range from contributing financially to the household, to taking active part in cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. In the upper classes, guys do NOTHING in terms of house work of paying for anything. However, they still participate in the life of the family and Mom is the boss of them. In the low income households many young men become the head of the household since the father is often absent. Culturally speaking, they move from their home (or not) to their own homes when they get married. If they don't get married, the expectation is that the women will take care of the parents as they age, not the other way around. There is almost like a weight of responsibility that falls on the shoulders of the child (generally women but sometimes men) who stays home living with the parents, after the other sibs have moved out. Charlotte described this in the case of the spinster daughter, etc. 

Regardless, of the cultural element, I think what SL is talking about is that the element of responsibility, motivation and ownership for her life is missing from her daughter's life. To that point, I have no advice. 

21 year old daughter who was DX with RAN at 9 years old. The work of recovery is ongoing. 
I don't understand how sending a young adult who is suffering from an eating disorder to live on her own will help facilitate her recovery/remission. I DO see how having her continue to live at home with the parent who will stand firm against ED behaviors for as long as it takes would be the healthy thing. As wenWinning says, there are so many behaviors that are necessary for mature/independent living that can be practiced and mastered while living at home with a parent.

My D wanted out and has lived out of our home (except for a few months after a psych hospitalization) for 8 years now. She had just binge eaten herself out of an AN relapse and was still bingeing when she left. It has been an extraordinarily difficult uphill climb for her with her EDs, moving between AN and BN (with laxatives) and binge eating. She has suffered so much, and is still suffering, although she is finally doing better. I think that any effort to keep a person with an ED at home with a parent who will fight the ED is the way that will bring about earlier recovery/remission and the health that is necessary for truly independent living. My D has gone through so much unnecessary pain because we did not find a way to keep her at home.

Your situation, SL, with your D being able to run to her biodad's house was ideal for the perpetuation of her AN. So now biodad is moving far away and he wants her to be living away from both of you? With some unsuspecting roommate? Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. Perhaps she could live permanently with you, until she is healthy. As long as she is working, you could charge her rent. 
Daughter age 28, restrictive anorexia (RAN) age 11-18, then alternating RAN with binge eating disorder and bulimia with laxatives, is in remission from EDs for 3 years after finally finding effective individual therapy. Treatment continues for comorbid disorders of anxiety, ADD and depression. "Perseverance, secret of all triumphs." Victor Hugo
Yes, AnnieK.

That's exactly what bio dad wants.

He is convinced that daughter needs to be 'independent'.

That's fine, when she is ready.

That is exactly what I wanted for her one year ago and why we went to FBT - one of the goals was pathways to independence - as she was weight restored for nearly 2 years then.

But now - we have a completely different situation on our hand.

We have a relapse that daughter (with support) needs to pull herself out of.

I have seen very good signs this week that she can.

She is eating most of the foods that I am presenting to her - with the exception of the 1st day of her menstrual when things were tough.

BUT - when bio dad is on the scene, it never works out.

He thinks that he knows it all.

He does okay for awhile, and then things go off course.

How can you be the primary decision maker in all of this if you cannot grasp that 20 BMI is NOT acceptable for recovery because you, yourself, are a "healthy man" of 58 years old with a 21 BMI when YOU in fact are BONE THIN??? How can you be the primary decision maker when you think that it is 'unnatural' for our daughter to be a 21 BMI and you become "shocked" when you find that she has been maintaining "an unnatural weight of 22 BMI" for almost 2 years??? How can you be the primary decision maker when you think that she can 'gain weight on 2,100 calories' when she maintained 7-10 pounds higher on 2,500 or more???

How can you be the primary decision maker when you allow ED to run the show? When you are afraid to present new foods and up the calories for fear that 'people will be asking if she is pregnant again if her tummy gets larger'???

My mother used to say "Some people are just not teachable."

Bio dad is one of those people.

We have been on this journey for nearly five years now.

He should have it 'down' by now, but he doesn't - he has pieces of it - but that's not good enough.

Thanks to you all - and especially Wenlow for her idea - I spoke to my daughter this morning.

She had just completed - with my encouragement - a big bowl of hearty steel cut oats and raisins with milk, a large glass of OJ and six stewed prunes.

I told my daughter about how her dad was excited about his new home in the mountains and how he said he wanted to travel a bit.

And yet he wants to have an apartment close to her as well.

So I told her that my idea is to add an extra room and bath in our home so that her bonus dad could have a 'man cave space', she could have her space until and if she was ready to go on her own and what did she think about that idea?

We could also have a guest room to accommodate 'daddy' staying from time to time.

She smiled - beamed actually - and said "Yes, I like that idea."

We already have a estimate on this remodel and the plans.

We had thought about doing this months ago.

So - now this morning - I have to break this idea to the gents involved.

Wish me luck.

Any input on this idea???

Cathy V.
Southern California
I also have no answers but an watching this thread closely to hear what others do. Our D is 19 and living with us (mostly) unless she doesn't like some limit or boundary we set,or a tone we use or the way we look at her or...Then she runs off to her boyfriends for a couple days. I think this is meant to punish us or to avoid taking responsibility for herself. She does not contribute to the household either financially or with chores even though she is working. A typical YA behaving like this would have been kicked out by now but we feel we need to keep her here so at least we have some amount of ability to care for her. Though sometimes I wonder if she should try it and see what happens. Will watch for what others say.
fear knocked on the door, faith answered, no one was there.

I am glad that I've opened up a conversation that may have been long overdue on this forum.

I appreciate your commenting on your own situation.

Many of us parents of young adults/adults have similiar concerns/fears that need to be heard.

Cathy V.
Southern California
Seminar Lady

How much do you think the length of her illness has contributed to her - for the want of a better expression - lack of maturity.  I have heard about (Carrie) and read studies that some patients can be stuck in early adolescent or, indeed, age of onset for a long time, despite their chronological age?  The life experience and maturity of a non-ed 26 year old is different from one who has been ill on and off, for as long as your daughter has?

What you are describing to me IS my 17 year old d at this moment in time.  It is not that she doesn't love us but she is unwilling to accept responsibility but wishes to be treated as a "grown up".  However, doing odd jobs (emptying the dishwasher for example) tends to involve much eye rolling, sighing and demands for answers to such questions as "Do you know how tired I am?  How hard I am working at the moment? etc etc".  The Bank of Mum & Dad are also being SOOOOO "mean" when suggesting that she gets an allowance and that is what she should buy birthday presents for friends/make up/cinema tickets etc etc from.

I am sure it is a phase she will grow out of but (to steal an expression of Colleen's) SHE. WEARS. ME. OUT...

I am in no way trying to dismiss your situation and have nothing but sympathy for you.  This disorder is so darn hard and then we have to cope with all the other stuff on top of it.  

Much love
Mother, wife, farmer, C of C and M Productions
It seems that what you're describing about you daughter's behavior does appear to be largely anxiety-driven and sort of a secondary symptom of the ED. Some sufferers (not naming names or anything, but it's one I see every time I look in the mirror!) have the opposite problem: the drive to be independent too early, costs be damned. It's also anxiety (fears of needing people and depending on them), just the opposite expression.

Getting her in a more stable place recovery-wise needs to come first. If she needs to stay at home for you to help her fight the AN, then that's not exactly a failure to launch. That's her inner sense of safety kicking in.

Her anxiety about her leaving and becoming independent could be two-fold. Like above, it could be that her ED thoughts are quieter around you and recovery is easier because she knows you will insist on her eating. Eventually, though, she has to start learning how to manage any remaining ED thoughts herself.

The other part of the anxiety is the avoidance piece. Taking responsibility for your own decisions and your own mistakes is really, really scary. It's why I never ever wanted to be the boss or the group leader: because then if things got completely stuffed, I wasn't the one whose head was going to roll. As long as you and her dads are "in charge", so to speak, it lessens her anxiety. It's why Magic Plate is useful in this respect. You're kind of Magic Plate-ing her life. Which is fine as long as it's a) temporary and b) what she really needs. Most kids want to start taking control of their food far too early in the process, but some really don't have a problem with being served by Mom and Dad because it's easier.

Letting your daughter not take responsibility for even some small things (gas, cell phone, rent, etc) might inadvertently breed a sense of helplessness. That she isn't capable of living on her own and managing for herself. Which she might not be RIGHT NOW. That's fine. What helps me tackle a big, nebulous task like Living On My Own or Recovery is to break it down into very specific tasks I need to master. It might be getting into the habit of paying bills. Having her pay you rent on the first of the month. Doing her own laundry. Helping with food prep (as appropriate for her recovery). And so on.

Just my thoughts.
Carrie Arnold Blogger and author at http://www.edbites.com
Thanks, Charlotte.

I empathize with your situation, too.

As to my daughter being "ill for so long", that is what really saddens me. It didn't have to be.

It just frustrates me that my daughter was doing so well - and to this very day - her bio dad just doesn't 'get' how his involvement/interference/"I know better than everyone" attitude and some of his distorted thinking about weight and recovery has put the damper on recovery possibility.

For so long, he tried to play "hero" and really believed that he was hearing from daughter and not ED when she said some of the things that she said.

Even today he continues to talk about getting an apartment with her and only moving out when she is ready for that.

And yet when she is there, he is often gone on a business trip (leaving her alone in the house) and/or allowing her to restrict her food because "she puts her foot down and won't eat that" or "she doesn't accept that she needs to be a higher weight" etc. etc. etc.

It is a totally different scenario when she is at home with us.

She feels confident in my support, as she knows that I will stand up to ED.

Now that I have finally got down the caring, compassionate, confident, consistent business, we seem to be doing really well.

Stay tuned and wish us luck.


Cathy V.
Southern California

Thank you so much for your input.

PS - In fairness to my daughter, she does work nearly full time, pays her own gas/car insurance, etc., does do some household chores/all her own laundry/etc and visits her grandmother's residential home and sings for the residents when I suggest that she does. When she was staying with us full-time, she was paying us small amount of rent. She is seeing a therapist and her recovery/yoga coach and she does seem to be trying to get back on track right now.

The problem is that what she (or ED) tells her bio dad is so very different than what she will say to me.

Cathy V.
Southern California

PS  Any decisions - can they be made with all of you present?  You can point out how proud you are of your D - that you know this is hard but she is working with you

Such great feedback from Charlotte, AnnieK, Carrie and others. 

They are spot on - both in what keeps someone avoidant and what helps them to tackle fears in a safe place.  Getting stuck at an earlier emotional development does happen to our children and that is something my D heard loud and clear from Dr. LeGrange.  They simply need to make up the time for what they lost, one small step at a time.

Cathy, Your home is her safe place to recover, where she knows you will not listen to her ED.  Your safe haven will help her while she is gaining back her strength nutritionally and learning those skills in how to take responsibility for herself in many ways.

She has shown a lot of responsibility and potential in many areas.

I think this relapse with weight loss that wasn't recovered, just set her back for awhile.

But you are the one who can get her back on track.
It isn't a failure to launch as Carrie said but more of her needing your safe haven until she is healthy physiologically and can sort these things out with more cognitive clarity.

I told you all I needed to do to help my D - in simple steps.  She developed her own independence plan and what she felt she needed to learn in skills.  And she tackled them one at a time till they felt solid and internalized.

These days it warms my heart to hear her sort out her decisions based on what her needs are - how to keep herself healthy, calm and enjoying life.  

She's come a long way but it really came from almost 2 years of working through getting to know herself, her needs, wishes, desires and what it will take for her to tackle her fears in small steps that build a foundation for her.

That is something that you, her T, and the yoga coach can help her with as she gets fully nourished again.

Getting fully nourished is always the first step.

You've done a great job this week having your D back home.  and she is showing that she feels safe with you.  Remember,no one chooses to be ill with anorexia.

WenWinning (formerly wenlow) - a Mom who has learned patience, determination, empathy, and inner strength to help her young adult daughter gain full remission after over a decade of illness and clinician set inaccurate weights
Cathy, are there any legal steps that you can take that would help you to keep bio-dad's influence out of this?

It does sound as if his participation has made things very difficult. What does she feel about him? Does she see that he is making her recovery difficult, does that bother her?


'I am getting weight on her again. She is up a pound this week and eating the food I serve.'

There's your starting point and you are doing great.  Do you think bio dad is somewhat on the ed spectrum (for want of a better expression) himself? Could you express this view to him and explain that his views and values on weight are just not helping your d?  Stated calmly, non-accusingly and with no mention of depriving him of seeing his d.

If your d likes the idea of a guest room for her father to stay - that suggests to me that she is happy to stay where she is safe but she is able to see her bio dad too.  That's the best of all worlds for her.
If your h agrees to it, that sounds fantastic - you sound to have a gem of a bonus dad and h so he probably will!!
Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt.
What has been a big surprise to me is how compliant with and completion of meals that my daughter has been over the past several days.

We had the meeting with my ex today.

My husband is a reluctant participant in the idea of our taking this back on full-time but he will go along with it.
He hates the idea, though, and who can blame him? He has made so many sacrifices over the past near five years.

Ex seems to be coming to terms with the idea of daughter staying with us until she is ready to be independent, as well.

But - I must admit that my daughter's going back into 'baby mode' when she is getting back on track with food seems to scare us all to a bit. She is a handful and more, that's for sure.

It's all very scary when we think ahead. I guess all we can do is take one day at a time.

PS - My daughter loves her bio dad, don't get me wrong, and his intentions are well-meaning.

But I just think that he doesn't 'get' the whole picture and ED manages to push him around.

Cathy V.
Southern California
So good to hear that your H has gone along with having your D home with you (even if reluctant) and that biodad is seeing that having her with you till she is ready to be independent is the best thing for her.

As for babymode, yes, take it one day at a time with feeding and get the support you need from others including her T and perhaps the RD you both worked with so well in the past.  You also have the yoga coach who can support your team.  

Mostly for now it's getting her fully fed and nourished back to where she needs to be, and just ignore the regression since that is to be expected.  

You can keep reinforcing the things she can do in helping out at home, going to work, and including her in decisions she can make

One step at a time - and if possible keep working on your great outlets of yoga and meditation.  Let those thoughts just be thoughts that don't consume or destroy you.

She will get there - you helped her before and you can do it again.
Biodad just didn't have the necessary understanding of her illness and what was needed and why.  he was easily pushed around by her ED.

They can still see one another and share loving times together, but his home was held hostage by ED
Sending you strength and hope
WenWinning (formerly wenlow) - a Mom who has learned patience, determination, empathy, and inner strength to help her young adult daughter gain full remission after over a decade of illness and clinician set inaccurate weights
I have no solutions to offer but lots and lots of support and sympathy. You describe a situation that I find many parents who have kids with chronic mental health issues face - not just ED. As a society we simply do not offer enough understanding, support, or insight about this. It is not uncommon and as Charlotte mentions, used to be more normalized.

You also bring up a theme that many many families will recognize: a parent who is torn between the needs and tolerance of exes and steps (and other siblings, and taking care of the older generation). One parent often becomes the one negotiating it all: with treatment and with the bills and with all other family members. They're being pressed from all sides.

Let's take a moment to truly appreciate those among us who are so courageously, exhaustedly, and with dogged stamina remaining the champion for their adult children and balancing all those concerns over time. You are amazing, and deserve credit for all you're doing and for remaining caring and optimistic throughout. You CARE, and I know all of us care about you!
Laura (Collins) Lyster-Mensh
F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director