Divorce or Separation: How to Support a Child Through Eating Disorder Recovery When Parents Are Separated?

Young girl sitting with her teddy bear after being told about her parents divorce

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

The process of divorce or even separation can be an excruciating time for all family members involved. This is often a time of high tension and intense emotions as a couple attempts to navigate through possible scenarios that would work best for their family situation.

If you and your spouse have found yourself in the midst of a separation or divorce, you are likely just trying to stay afloat during an extremely stressful and anxious time. This may be further intensified if you have a child who is simultaneously dealing with an eating disorder. How can you work together to support your child while also working through your own relationship issues?

Supporting Your Child

While there is no easy solution to such a complex situation, there are some suggestions that might help you get through this difficult time. The most important thing is to prioritize the health and wellness of your child. Because eating disorders are deadly diseases with severe medical complications, attending to the health of your child should become an important priority for you both.

Young boy with head in his hands after hearing about his parents dicorceDepending on your individual situation, you might discuss what is a realistic way to offer support to your child. Perhaps because of the tensions involved with your divorce or separation, seeing your child on a separate basis may be most appropriate. In other scenarios, you might feel able to see your child with one another.

This is an important time to involve the help and guidance of a specialized professional, such as a marriage and family therapist who has a background in eating disorder recovery. A counselor or therapist can help mitigate many of the tensions from your relationship to help you focus on the common goal of supporting your child during their treatment for their eating disorder.

They can also be helpful in serving as a liaison with your child’s treatment team, determining what therapeutic sessions might be appropriate for you both to join and be involved with.

Lastly, be sure to seek out individual counsel for yourself during this difficult time. Between a separation with a spouse and the recovery process for your child, you are likely feeling stretched in ways you have never experienced before. Having regular and consistent support, such as through a parent network, therapy and more can provide much needed relief and encouragement.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

If you have been through a separation or divorce, how did you best support your children during this time?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 28, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com