Eating Disorders and Siblings: A Family Affair
Eating disorders are one of the most complex and confusing disorders for those affected and their families. Having a child diagnosed with an eating disorder can be very challenging for parents. Many programs and support groups are available for parents of individuals with eating disorders. However, very little attention or research has been focused on the siblings of individuals with eating disorders. Professionals and families must remember that siblings are also affected by these disorders. When a family faces a crisis such as a child facing an eating disorder often times the family’s attention will focus on the sick individual. This behavior although well intentioned can leave siblings feeling disconnected from the family or ignored by their parents. This also leaves room for siblings to build resentment towards the individual with the eating disorder and the parents that are focused on them. These siblings could also be forced into a new family role while the family organized to support the suffering individual. This could lead the sibling to take on extra responsibility to support his or her parents or take on a parental role in raising other siblings while parents are absent.