Often I hear the raw terror from parents and partners telling me they are so uncertain about how to support a loved one with an eating disorder. There may be the sadness and fear about your child or partner who has been physically harming themselves and often threatening more self harm and sometimes suicide. Usually caregivers share a lot of distress and confusion about how to set boundaries and what boundaries to set.

Every single caregiver I’ve ever met only wants to be the best possible support for their person. Setting and following through on boundaries often feels punitive and cruel in the midst of all the suffering the eating disorder is already causing.

When a family member is diagnosed with an eating disorder and we’re frantically trying to keep them alive and find a good fit for treatment, often the last thing on our minds is setting boundaries to keep them AND us, safe.

Most families have clearly been giving 100% of their energy and time to trying to help their loved one with an eating disorder. You may feel that every aspect of your life has now been impacted including; your job, relationships, health, and joy. And while it is vital to love, support and nurture them, it is essential for their health and yours that you set and follow through with loving boundaries. I go into great detail in a previous article called, 3 Reasons to Set and Enforce Boundaries. You can read it here.

Today I’m not addressing the reasons to enforce the boundaries, instead I’m addressing how to create loving guidelines and follow through to keep a loved one and yourself safe. It is a big task to not let fear run the decision making process. You can see My Top 7 Tips for Coping with Fears: here my blog from April of 2022. 

In my HUG Kits you can pick the areas in which you need to gain more knowledge and or competence in setting boundaries and most importantly, following through.

This can be scary when your loved one is so sick. It’s still essential.

Here are 3 sample areas from which you can choose to practice:

  1. Tolerating my loved one’s distress.
  2. Reducing my own distress.
  3. Following through on boundaries.

HOW TO tips:

  1. Shift Beliefs: If you were to choose just one of these areas to increase your skills on, what beliefs might you need to shift? Often family caregivers don’t see the need to learn any of these 3 areas.
  2. Set Boundary: Make sure it’s in alignment with your values and tell your loved one what the expectation is and what they will be choosing if they choose to not abide by the boundary..
  3. Follow Through on Boundary: Now that you’ve chosen 1 area, what will give you the confidence to follow through?
  4. Manage own Fear: How will you manage your fears?
  5. Get Support. Where will you get support?

You have so many answers within you and when you find those, you learn better. If you need help finding them, give me a call. This stuff is not easy, we need to unlearn habits and start using new skills. This is the parallel process that is our work to do on ourselves, as the caregivers.

Remember, you did not cause this, you cannot control this and it’s not yours to cure.

Until the Standard Of Care is changed, I created easy solutions that clinicians can provide for families that are ready to go and simple to provide with no extra work. Every parent who is facing these deadly illnesses could use a hug. Clinicians and parents alike can access my HUG Kits easily and affordably to create a plan to become; calm, compassionate, confident, trusting, resilient and attuned.

Feel free to contact me to learn more about how HUG Kits and our Recovery Roadmaps webinar series can support the work you’re doing with families in your private practice or clinic.