Parents Give Their Children Eating Disorders

child on scale

Do you eat to punish yourself, or to gain some control over your life? Will your children someday eat for the same reasons you eat? If I told you that you will personally influence your child’s future eating behaviors, both the healthy and unhealthy habits, would you believe me?

Before you answer, read this quote from an article by Dr. Lisa Firestone, a psychology expert and the author of Conquer Your Critical Voice:

“As children, we all experience varying degrees of emotional pain. The love, care, and nurturance we get from our caregivers lead us to form a positive sense of self and [help] us to create our identity. Yet, no parent or person is perfect. Even the best parents are only attuned to their child’s needs about 30 percent of the time. This means that, as children, each of us was inevitably left lacking certain things we needed. We may have felt rejected, isolated, unseen, or unheard. Conversely, we may have felt intruded on, overly controlled, or intimidated by our parents. All of these factors could have impacted our relationship with food. We literally and figuratively learned how to ‘feed’ ourselves from how we were nurtured by our parents and influential caretakers.

If any of that rang some bells in your mind, you may have inner feelings that are leading to overeating, binging, and mindless snacking. Your eating relationship may mirror your mother’s or father’s habits, or it may be a reaction to what you witnessed as a child.

Whether you are compulsively overeating, or battling anorexia, you are consciously and unconsciously disregarding your goals and values. You might dream of a healthy lifestyle, but according to this article, your childhood is getting in the way. Instead of using food as you would use gas for your car (a channel for keeping yourself fueled and capable of getting from Point A to Point B), you’re using food to feed self-hatred.

If this is true, than allowing this to continue is just dumbness on our parts. I think it’s time to stop passing this trait along to our little ones.

The article cites a “critical inner voice” as the culprit behind eating disorders and states that in order to have a healthy relationship with food we must “understand ourselves on a deeper emotional level, or to uncover why we eat the way we eat.”  

I don’t think any good parent would consciously give his or her child an eating disorder; so maybe, if we take the time to sort through our emotions, we can help our children sooner, rather than later.

What is a “critical inner voice”?  As defined by, the critical inner voice is the “defended, negative side of our personality that is opposed to our ongoing development. The voice consists of the negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that oppose our best interests and diminish our self-esteem.”   This voice differs from person to person, and “undermines our ability to interpret events realistically … these destructive internalized thoughts lead to a sense of alienation – a feeling of being removed from ourselves … The critical inner voice is not an auditory hallucination; it is experienced as thoughts within your head.”


On the site, it reads that while we are conscious of this voice, many of these thoughts occur unconsciously; and sometimes, we may accept these thoughts as truth.

I know this inner voice very well; and it has me tricked. It’s only 7 am on a Monday morning and I’ve been emotionally chucked across the room and thumped on the brain by natural thoughts. My inner critical voice isn’t just nagging me about food, it’s picking at every single aspect of my life. I think it’s time to declare my mind a “No Nagging Zone” and flush my critical buddy down the potty.

In order to defeat an eating disorder, you must battle this inner voice. Well, bring it on Critical Inner Voice. I challenge you to a duel; and I must warn you – I do Pilates.

Do you have a “critical inner voice”? 

What do you think?

Parents Give Their Children Eating Disorders

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. I do when it comes to college. I recently got accepted to Nursing School and will be starting on August, but I have these critical inner voice that is telling me that I will not be able to be a good mother and a good student at the same time. I am scared of the unknown, but at least I have to try right!!!

  2. Tinkie78 says:

    I do, but it has more to do with keeping the house clean than eating too much or too little.

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