My Daughter Has An Eating Disorder, Did I Cause It?

There are several eating disorders that are common among adolescent and teenage girls. They sometimes persist into adulthood. They can be serious, even ending in death.

In this Mental Health Guide article we will teenage eating disorders and what causes them to manifest.

The most common of these disorders are Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge-Eating disorder. These are the most prominent eating disorders in young women. What are their causes?  Many parents believe that they are somehow responsible for their daughter developing one of these eating disorders. It can cause great guilt along with shame and embarrassment.

But is bad parenting the cause of eating disorders in children?  Probably not, according to the very best current research. Then what is the cause?

The Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are some of the most complex disorders according to the best current research and usually fall into the stress disorder category. There does not seem to be one predominant cause, and bad parenting is certainly not at the core. Here’s an overview of the causes. It likely takes more than one of these causes, and usually several of them, for a child to develop a significant eating disorder.

  • Genetics: Eating disorders tend to run in families and close relatives, and it is believed that a genetic link is the cause for this primarily, though if the behaviors persist in the parent, the child who is susceptible to developing an eating disorder might pick up on it. Some researchers have suggested that serotonin imbalance in the brain might be the genetic link.
  • Emotional Health: Children who suffer from emotional problems such as low self-esteem, impulsiveness, perfectionism and engaging in risky behavior show a greater tendency toward developing nervous disorders; commonly known as mood disorders that manifest in different ways.
  • Societal Pressure: This cause has been given much more attention in recent years, and society is changing for the better. For many years, girls grew up believing that being very skinny was more attractive. There was a very negative stereotype for being overweight and this causes anxiety issues in young teenage girls especially. These problems still persist for sure, but with education there is a greater acceptance of differing body types. In fact, being very skinny is now seen as unhealthy, even in the modeling and makeup world.

Do parents contribute to any of these factors?  Perhaps they do. But it is not likely that they are the primary cause of their daughter’s eating disorder. If your child has an eating disorder, it is extremely important that you get help for her as soon as possible. Talk with your doctor or her pediatrician about treatment options. Eating disorders can be deadly; but with treatment they can also be overcome in a very high percentage of girls.