For Parents

Whether you’re a parent of a child recently diagnosed with an eating disorder, or one who’s been struggling for years, this page is for you. We understand that having a child with an eating disorder comes with a range of difficult emotions, such as self-blame, anxiety, grief, fear, and anger. The illness not only jeopardizes your child’s health, but it can also disrupt your entire family system by:

  • Changing your relationship with your child
  • Increasing conflict in marital relationships
  • Leaving little to no space for your own leisure activities
  • Disrupting previously established routines
  • Causing financial strain
  • Leading to feelings of isolation

Even though eating disorders can be disruptive to a family’s well-being, there are resources and treatment options proven to empower not only your child but the whole family toward lasting recovery. To help ease the burden of having to find these resources on your own, we’ve put together a page full of information for parents about the importance of families in eating disorder recovery.

Best Outcomes Come With Family

When you have a child with an eating disorder, it can be natural to feel fearful, confused, or even frustrated. As a parent, there may even be some reasons why you don’t want to be involved in your child’s treatment.

  • You may be fearful of making things worse if you’re included.
  • You may feel ashamed that your child needs mental health support, thinking you did something wrong as a parent.
  • You may be uncomfortable sitting in a therapist’s office and openly discussing your family’s treatment goals.

You are not alone in these feelings. Many parents report the same fears and anxieties. However, we are here to show that research proves the best outcomes come when the family is involved in their child’s recovery. There are several ways that parents can be involved in their child’s treatment process, including but not limited to:

Imagine Having Meals Without Worry

Can you imagine having family meals without your child’s eating disorder? Can you imagine cooking for your family without worry? Imagine sitting down for a family meal and seeing your child smiling, feeling your breathing slow down, and believing that the eating disorder is gone. That’s our goal.

We know it’s possible to not only imagine this possibility, but we have seen families reach this place. The place where worry doesn’t accompany every meal and snack that your child consumes. By initiating treatment and finding a team of professionals that your family can trust, you can begin building treatment goals that move you and your child away from imagining and toward this reality.

Life Doesn't Have to Stop

Adjusting to your child’s eating disorder diagnosis can cause many disruptions to your family system. You may notice you’re more distanced from your child, there is increased conflict in your home, or your schedule is being overtaken by appointments with healthcare professionals and meal support goals. When you put this all together, it can be easy to feel like your life has been taken over by your child’s illness.

But the eating disorder doesn’t have to win. Recovery is possible. We have hope that with treatment life can become fuller, deeper, and more fulfilling, and joy can return to your family. By committing to your child’s treatment, life can keep going, and eventually, your family can thrive without the eating disorder having a part in your family.

We understand that even when you have a child with an eating disorder, life doesn’t stop. You still have obligations, both to yourself and your family. We want to work with your family’s unique situation to create a treatment plan whose goals align with your obligations, as well as with your hopes moving forward.


Our ultimate goal of eating disorder treatment is to support your child in reaching full and lasting recovery. We want:

  • Joy to return to family’s homes
  • Meals to come without worry and conflict
  • Parents to reconnect with their child without the eating disorder getting in the way

Center for Family

At Hilltop, we do so by giving parents tools to increase their sense of self-efficacy. These tools could include:

  • Further education on eating disorders
  • Collaboration and open dialogue around your own concerns as well as your child’s eating disorder recovery goals
  • Learning communication skills to use when you want to help but don’t know what to say to your child
  • Options for your own individual support

Treatment Support

Initiating treatment

  • Parents set up a consultation call to find a provider that is a good fit for their family.
  • Depending on the severity, parents may be asked to make an appointment with their child’s primary care doctor to make sure they are medically stable to receive treatment at an outpatient level of care.
  • The therapist will sit down to begin the assessment process with your family and make a treatment plan.

Family Is Important

Through research, we have seen it proven, that due to caregivers’ established emotional connection with their child, they have the biggest impact on their child’s emotional state when offering support. This proves what an important asset parents are in their child’s eating disorder treatment process!

Eating disorders severely impact the family system. If you think about it, many moments of connection involve food. Family meals, trips, holidays, birthdays, special events, and the list goes on. In addition, without proper nutrition, your child’s mind and body start to fade away and you begin to lose your child’s spark. We understand how devastating and scary it can be to watch your child suffer.

We work hard to empower parents to see themselves as their child’s greatest recovery tool. Parents have the deepest connection with their children. They also are the ones on the ground each day, working to promote their child’s healing. We give parents specific skills to make them feel capable of pushing against the eating disorder while remaining compassionate and loving.

These articles are a great starting point for parents wanting to know the first steps toward supporting their child’s recovery.

Free Parent Support Group

At Hilltop, we offer a parent support group where parents can connect. The support group can be a great way to decrease the sense of isolation that eating disorders can cause and show you that you’re not alone.

In addition, the group allows parents a space to share their experience navigating their child’s recovery with others who have similar experiences. It is an opportunity to learn more tools, process difficult emotions, and connect with families in comparable situations.

For more information about the support group, click here.

Putting It Together

Now comes the part where we piece all this information together. Here’s what this page has covered:

  • The best outcomes in eating disorder recovery happen when parents are involved in treatment.
  • Parents are the biggest asset in their child’s recovery because they have a pre-established emotional bond that treatment providers don’t.
  • Family focused treatment providers will be able to tailor goals to your family’s situation so that:
    • Life doesn’t have to stop
    • Parents can feel supported every step of the way
    • Meals can exist without worry
    • Self-blame doesn’t take over your experience
  • Hilltop offers resources for additional parent support in the form of:

If you are a parent of a child with an eating disorder who is looking to talk to someone about questions you have or the support needs of your family, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We will work with your schedule to jump on a 15-minute confidential consultation call.

When you put in your information, we will call you back to get an understanding of what your family is going through. We will also make sure to remind you that no matter where your child is with their disorder, we believe recovery is possible.


You are not alone. There is hope.

Contact Us for a no charge, no judgment, no commitment

News & Resources

Returning Home for the Summer: Maintaining Recovery

Empowering Parents: Navigating the Challenges of Supporting Children with Eating Disorders

Empowering Parents: Strategies for Supporting a Child’s Eating Disorder Recovery