You might be feeling like the daughter you once knew and trusted is not the same trustworthy, loving and caring young woman you raised. Unfortunately eating disorders are extremely manipulative. Their ED voice has become so loud, and is clouding and cluttering their judgment. So what do we do as parents once that trust has been broken?
Trust is hard to gain back once it’s lost. It takes a lot to build back and a lot to be on the other side of accepting and willing to trust again. I think it’s important to understand and accept where in the ED recovery process your daughter is, and how much the ED voice still has a hold on her.
For us the trust started to come back when our daughter was further in her recovery, but it took time and we are still building it back. We started with baby steps, and letting her know that the lines of communication were and will always be open, no matter what the subject matter!
A few ideas to help build back that trust:
1. Listen to them, give them a chance to explain. Jumping to conclusions will just make matters worse. We all like to know we are being heard!
2. Giving back some independence around food (this is solely dependent on where your daughter is in recovery. I would highly advise their medical team is also on board with this decision). Start with the trust of eating one of their daily snacks on their own and build from there. If it wasn’t eaten it’s important they are honest with you. Then work on what could be done next time to make it easier on them so they are able to easily complete the snack on their own.
3. Acknowledge and accept that there will be slipups. If you do catch them in a lie, don’t overact. Let them know they are in a safe space and have a civilized conversation about it. Talk about how in order to build the trust we all want, we also need to be telling the truth, no matter how scary it might feel.
4. Once you set boundaries make sure everyone is clear in what they are so there is no confusion. Everyone involved needs to know that changes may and will need to take place as you all navigate through building up the trust again.
5. Ask them what they need and how they feel they could regain your trust.
6. Lead by example by being honest with them. Show your daughter that even you as a parent make mistakes, no one is perfect! You are showing them it’s important to own up to your own mistakes, to say sorry when you are in the wrong and to learn from them.
If they are older it’s going to be important that they start to learn how to manage the ED on their own. This will require a lot of trust and will take time. With the proper guidance from you and their medical team they will slowly learn. My daughter knows I’ll always be there for her, but there will be a time when she’s not living with us, so she needs to learn how to do this on her own.
Take a deep breath when things get hard and remember building up trust can be a long process, it’s all part of the recovery process. It will have its ups and downs but in the end it will all be worth it.