Hello Rene,

I have a difficult question to ask you mother to mother…

I’ve had a strained relationship with my daughter Anna ever since her father and I divorced 10 years ago and whenever we meet I feel as though I’m treading on eggshells.

Anna lives in New York and works in PR. We met up last month and for the first time in years had a really good time together. But while I was borrowing her computer at her apartment I found several pro-Ana websites in her search history.

Anna has always been skinny but I’ve always blamed it on her long works hours and lifestyle (she’s always out at parties and clubs). Now though I’m wondering if there’s more going on… I want to raise the issue with my daughter but don’t want to rock the boat. So what do I do Rene… I’d love your advice.


Cassandra, Arkansas

Hi Cassandra:

Unfortunately I’m afraid there are no easy answers in this situation but if this indeed anorexia, it could be a matter of life and death. You have two choices; to stay silent and continue on with your strained (though improving) relationship with your daughter, or speak up and potentially save her life.  If this were my own daughter, I would absolutely confront her with what I found. Here’s what I suggest:

  • ENLIST THE HELP OF FRIENDS: Your daughter is older and out on her own so you might not know a lot of her friends. But if you know any of them, even as casual acquaintances, I would talk to them. You need to get their honest assessment of what’s going on. Have they ever seen your daughter eat? What does she eat? How much?  You can tell them of your own concerns as well. It may be that they too, were worried, but just didn’t know how to proceed.
  • ASK HER /YOUR DOCTOR: Again, since she is an adult and out of the house you will probably get very little information from her doctor. But you can at least have a conversation with him or her and let them know you are very concerned.
  • ARM YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE: There are some great websites out there with information on how to identify eating disorders and where to turn. I like this one but there are many more.
  • CONFRONT YOUR DAUGHTER: This is probably going to be the most difficult aspect of this plan but also the most important. Look, you asked me what I would do. I would have a heart to heart with my baby. I would tell her about what I found on her laptop and would explain that I am very concerned that she might have an eating disorder.  And I would keep talking. It may take more than one conversation but I would keep at it. But above all I would make sure that she knows I love her just the way she is. I would be devastated if something were to happen to my baby girl, especially if it was something that I cold have avoided had I spoken up.

I think the thing for you now is that you have to decide what’s more important; potentially overstepping your boundaries and offending Anna or possibly reaching out to your kid who clearly needs some help. Even if she does not have anorexia, she might need to be educated in proper nutrition. Either way, it sounds like she needs her mother to step in, regardless of decorum.

Good Luck, mommy!

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