Parenting kids who have a propensity to feel worthless and unlovable is not easy to say the least.

Each week in the online group support that I facilitate we have a topic that we use to illuminate the challenges family caregivers of those with eating disorders are experiencing.

On July 19th, 2019 we’re having a guest speaker join us from Monte Nido & Affiliates, bringing her professional wisdom on the topic of ‘shame.’

As a parent coach providing peer support I often share articles by eating disorders professionals on different topics that we discuss. I found This one by Nikki Rollo, PhD, LMFT to be insightful on the topic of shame.

Dr. Rollo shares insights on the tendency of our kid to want to disappear that can be so confounding, “While shame usually is accompanied by an urge to hide, the shame of existing is accompanied by an urge to disappear. People believe they should not be allowed to exist and experience a significant amount of disgust and contempt toward themselves. This level of shame can be a motivator for suicidal urges.” Nikki Rollo, PhD, LMFT

As a follower of the work of Brene Brown on vulnerability and shame I am compelled to be vulnerable about my own shame and disclose that I find this statement from Dr. Rollo’s article to be very true for me, “When we are in the landscape of shame, we are living with both the fear of being seen and then the opposing fear of vanishing and being insignificant and meaningless to others.”

There is so much for us as parents and other family caregivers to learn about the impact of shame on our loved one’s recovery and our parallel processes as we learn to more effectively support them through recovery.

I’m especially grateful to Dr. Rollo for taking the time and space to clarify parent’s roles and lack thereof in the development of eating disorders and shame.

“It is particularly difficult, yet necessary, to talk about early attachment and shame and its connection to development of an eating disorder, while simultaneously

Becky Henry Founder of Hope Network Eating Disorder Family Support

emphasizing that parents are not to blame for the development of an eating disorder. It is important to acknowledge that both things can be true. A person with an eating disorder may have high levels of shame and self-criticism and it’s still possible their eating disorder was not caused by their parents. Not everyone with high shame or ruptures in early attachment develops an eating disorder, and not everyone with an eating disorder has had ruptures in attachment. Many who suffer from an eating disorder have trauma, and some people with a diagnosed eating disorder have no trauma in their histories. This is not an either-or conversation, rather one where we must hold the tension of the opposites. Both things can be true at the same time in our understanding of an illness as multifaceted as an eating disorder.”

Parents and other family caregivers can access the weekly online group support here on my website.

There is no shame in having a child with an eating disorder. It is not your fault.  Now, tap your heels three times and repeat that and you’ll be home. 🙂 Yes, I’m a HUGE Wizard of Oz fan.

And learning to cope with their shame and effectively support our loved ones can help reduce their shame and ours.