It’s always important for divorcing spouses who will be co-parenting children to find a way to work together amicably for their kids’ best interests. When a child is suffering from an eating disorder, it’s particularly crucial.
Eating disorders are unlike many medical conditions and even some mental health issues in that parents may disagree about the seriousness of a child’s eating disorder or even whether they have one. However, both parents need to be on the same page about how to help their child if they’re going to be sharing parenting responsibilities across two homes.
Agree on some rules for both households
It’s helpful if parents can agree on some basic rules that they’ll follow when their child is with them. Working with your child’s therapist or doctor can help you draw up these rules. These might include things like the following:
- Don’t talk to or in front of your child about their body (or anyone else’s). The focus should be on eating healthy – not on how large or small they are.
- Don’t talk about “dieting” or calories.
- Don’t use fitness trackers (or scales). These can place undue pressure on a child who’s already struggling with their weight.
These can be difficult for a parent who believes their ex is exaggerating the issue or doesn’t believe there is one. That’s when your child’s pediatrician or therapist can help them understand that your child has an eating disorder that needs to be addressed for their short- and long-term health and well-being.
If you believe that it’s in your child’s best interest for you to have primary custody – at least for the present time, you have the right to seek that arrangement. If you share custody, it’s wise to include your agreed-upon rules in your parenting plan.