"After all, children don't provide for their parents. Rather, parents provide for their children." 2 Corinthians 12:14 NLT
Thoughts for Today
Millions of people in the United States, and an increasing number in non-Western countries, struggle with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. The majority of these people are girls in the teens or twenties, but children as young as six and individuals as old as 76 have been reported with eating disorders. Also, although this is often looked at as a female problem, researchers at Harvard University Medical School have new data that suggests that up to 25% of adults with eating disorders are male. (www.anred.com/stats.html 4/9/2008)
Certain dysfunctional behavioral patterns often characterize the families of young people with eating disorders. This week we will be looking at five types of dysfunctional families (described in The Thin Disguise by Pam Vredevelt) that tend to foster these disorders. Perhaps you or someone you know has a loved one struggling with an eating disorder. Or perhaps you will identify some area of family relationships that you need to address in your family.
The first family we will look at is "The Upside Down Family." In this family, the child meets the emotional needs of the parents—primarily the mother—rather than the other way around. (Physical and financial needs may be adequately met in these families, but both parents often severely neglect emotional needs.) Often the father's love must be earned by the child's behavior. This situation teaches children that their own needs are not nearly as important as those of their parents. As these children learn to suppress and deny their needs, they eventually become so out of touch with their own needs that by the time they reach adolescence, they are no longer aware of what their needs are. At this point, their unmet needs are so tremendous that they begin to fall apart and demand that someone give them attention. The onset of an eating disorder often takes place at this time.
(Note: We are grateful to Pam Vredevelt for her keen insights.)
Today's scripture is specifically addressing financial needs, but biblical teaching makes it clear that God has given parents the responsibility to provide for their children physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually. Our Heavenly Father is our ultimate example of a caring and nurturing parent.
Father, please show me if I am failing to meet my child's needs in any way. Help me to be the kind of parent you want me to be. Help me to walk in obedience to your Word and to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name …
These thoughts were drawn from…
Seeing Yourself in God's Image: Overcoming Anorexia and Bulimia by Martha Homme, MA, LPC. Written by a counselor with experience helping those with eating disorders, this study is born from her own struggles in adolescence. The group challenges members to find their identity in Christ as they overcome this difficult struggle. This guide offers understanding of distorted body image, denial, and the family systems influence. It also explains how to break free of social pressures and how to restore the temple and tie the recovery process together. A companion booklet Seeing Your Loved One in God's Image, can be used as a quick reference guide dealing with issues associated with eating disorders. Note: This curriculum was written especially for small groups, and we encourage people to use it that way. However, it can also be used effectively as a personal study for individuals or couples.
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