Last month I shared four principles as an eating disorder survivor that were instrumental in raising a daughter with a healthy self and body image. At fourteen, I was anorexic, then bulimic, and lived with an eating disorder until I was married and raising my daughter.
The birth of my daughter forced me to face the underlying issues of the eating disorder. I’ve spent the last twenty-five years dealing with the emotional and physical components of the illness. I chose to break the cycle. In addition to the tips from Part 1, here are three more principles I’ve lived by so I could be a healthy example of womanhood for my daughter.
1. Have the courage to deal with your stuff. There’s nothing magical about parenting that makes your issues, problems, or past go away. It’s easy to hide your struggles behind busyness or the responsibilities of motherhood. As my kids grew, their experiences brought up my own hurts. I had to choose to make myself emotionally healthy so I could lead them in emotional health. The healing process for any hurt takes courage and commitment, whether it’s through professional counseling, life coaching or a personal determination to stop destructive behavior. Our daughters take self-esteem cues from us – for them to be healthy, we need to be healthy.
2. Be accountable to your kids. Over the last twenty-plus years of living free of an eating disorder, there were times when I was tempted to step back into old, destructive patterns as my default coping mechanism. But when I looked into the eyes of my daughter, I knew I needed to live completely honest in front of her. I couldn’t be one person in front of her and another person when she wasn’t around. God’s word says all things are laid bare in the open in front of him (Hebrews 4:13), and we need to have the same integrity with our kids. It’s hard to face our stuff, but if we’re going to be real with our kids, we need to be real with ourselves, too.
3. Make a lifetime commitment to be active. I can’t diet and I can’t weigh myself. These are triggers that lead to unhealthy thoughts about weight and food. Being physically active through walking, running or biking has kept balance in my life and has been a healthy priority for our family. Being active is the healthiest way to balance food, weight, and fitness for a lifetime.
Living healthy has meant taking the high road on days I didn’t feel like it –but when I see my daughter’s beautiful smile and healthy lifestyle, I’m thankful for the grace, strength and presence of the living God who walked me through each critical time. Being a mom doesn’t make your life easier – it forces you to live honestly, seeking God’s best for you and your kids.
Do you have questions about body image issues with yourself or your daughter? Are there principles here you have questions about? If so, please comment below or email me at AskBrenda@thewhatevergirls.com.
Broken and Beautiful: Brenda has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a BA in Education. As a Parent, Counselor and Educator her ministry is helping moms and daughters navigate the tough stuff of life. Have a question for Brenda? Email her at AskBrenda@thewhatvergirls.com