As a mother of two young girls, I naturally worry about every aspect of their lives, but I also understand that I cannot control everything they are exposed to. Our culture opens doors that shed light on unachievable body images, fad diets and multiple channels to criticize and feel bad about ourselves.
For someone who found recovery from an eating disorder that crippled my spirit for over a decade, I am committed to being a positive example for my girls. I don't want them to fall under the spell of unattainable images media puts forth and our culture inspires. I am very passionate about my recovery journey and believe that identification is a powerful tool within the recovery process, and in rising above the illness.
I am committed to being a positive example for my girls.
I love the notion of "owning" your story—that's why I co-wrote "Making Peace With Your Plate" and that's why I work with the Eating Recovery Center. I do not want to sugarcoat my experience; in fact, I want to be brutally honest about my experience, "my story," the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly—in the hopes that others will feel empowered to reclaim their lives and continue on the road to recovery. Eating disorder recovery is worth the effort it takes, but it can be challenging and painful, especially in early recovery.
I take the same approach when parenting. It feels inevitable that people are going to bring up conversations on body images, food and exercise. My friends know that I am in long-term recovery and respect that. Sometimes, if people are being overly negative about their bodies around my children, I will have to say to them, "I am sorry you feel that way; we don't discuss body and weight in our home." Honestly, I am more than my body and I want my girls to know they are too. There are ways to gently change the topic, without being disrespectful.
Around any "body talk" I want to be mindful to the messaging and gently try to make our conversation about something more substantial because I am not my body, I am not my food intake.
However, I understand people are not directing their conversation about their body and weight at me. They are not trying to be rude—it's their stuff, and we all have our stuff! It is also what many of us have been taught to do in our society. We are taught to bond over disrespecting our body and our size. I recognize my children's feelings around body and fitting in when they arise, it's a part of growing up—a part of being human. Desiring beauty is natural. So I do not want to dismiss that for my children, or my recovery. Around any "body talk," I want to be mindful to the messaging and gently try to make our conversation about something more substantial because I am not my body, I am not my food intake and I am not my calories—I am so much more, and so are my children. It's a balancing act of sorts. Parenting is a balancing act.
Ultimately, my goal is to teach my children how to question and prioritize cultural values.
When it comes to your children, take notice of any behavioral changes that may raise concern. Trust your instincts and seek help from experienced professionals when a concern arises. Find simple ways to share positive messages with your children. Most importantly, know you are not alone and there are resources, such as eatingrevoverycenter.com for guidance.
Robyn Cruze is a national recovery advocate for the Eating Recovery Center, and struggled with an eating disorder for over a decade. Now fully recovered for over ten years, Cruze is a speaker, coach and published co-author of "Making Peace with Your Plate."