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Parenting Series: You Can't Pour From an Empty Cup

By Jennie Membrino- Nano - Parent & Family Liaison

Having a child with an eating disorder can weigh heavily on parents' lives - emotionally and physically. Balancing our personal lives while simultaneously supporting our loved one with their recovery can be a daunting task.

We try to manage work, marriage, friends and other children, while trying to find joy in our own lives. It can be extremely draining at times. There are times that we want to cry, scream at the top of our lungs, or just want to give up.

Some days it can take every ounce of our being to get up out of bed in the morning and face the eating disorder that grips our daughter.

The rollercoaster of emotions is hard most days. Sometimes it is difficult just even doing the simplest of tasks. Some of us lose sleep at night or wake up anxious not knowing what the day has in store. How will she handle each meal? Will she win the next battle against the voice of the ED?

Then we see a tiny glimpse of light, a subtle glow, a smile on her face and we know in that moment that we would never give up on her in a million years. We choose to be there for her every day because we love and care for her so much. As parents, we all want our child to feel happiness, joy and to truly love themselves.

How do we do that if we are so exhausted? By taking a little time for ourselves. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

We must MAKE THE TIME for ourselves. A night out alone with your spouse, significant other or a friend, a five minute meditation in the parking lot while running errands, a short walk at night in the crisp air before bed, a few minutes reading by candlelight, escaping into a book or a movie, a warm bath or an extra-long shower.

Find the time to decompress and center yourself so there is more of you to give when she really needs you.

You are one of the most important parts of your child’s recovery so taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of them. Be confident and remain calm not only for yourself but for your child. They need you to be their strength to support them and guide them through this difficult time in their lives.

It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to worry, but know you are not alone. There are other parents out there struggling too. Find a support system of family, friends or other parents going through the same thing and take it one day… one meal…one moment at a time.

If you are a struggling parent, please reach out to or check out our website at

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