"Fathers, do not provoke or irritate your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]." Colossians 3:21 AMP
Thoughts for Today
Certain dysfunctional behavioral patterns often characterize the families of people with eating disorders. This week we are 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.
In healthy families, children are taught to excel, to capitalize on their strengths, to recognize their weaknesses and to recover and learn from their mistakes. In the dysfunctional "Perfectionistic Family," each member must be an overachiever, never falling short in anything—standards that are, of course, impossible to achieve. This family has a need to be regarded as all good and picture perfect. They put great emphasis on family appearance. Focus is also often on body appearance. In perfectionistic families, children are told, "Just do the best you can." But when they do the best they can, it is not quite good enough.
(Note: we are grateful to Pam Vredevelt for her keen insights.)
An expectation of perfectionism—in ourselves or others—is totally unrealistic and can lead to discouragement and frustration. Today's scripture cautions parents not to be too hard on their children—"lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated." God wants us to teach our children, to discipline them in love, and to motivate them to good works—but not to place unrealistic expectations on them.
Father, teach me to find the right balance in training my children in the way they should go. Help me to be wise and sensitive, helping them to understand how special they are and that you have a special purpose for their lives. Help me not to discourage or frustrate, but to encourage. I thank you for the patience and grace you extend to me—help me to show my children your kind of patience and grace. 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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