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I Think My Daughter Has an Eating Disorder: Rachel & Campbell Faulkner-Brown

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
February 21, 2024 5:15 am

I Think My Daughter Has an Eating Disorder: Rachel & Campbell Faulkner-Brown

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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February 21, 2024 5:15 am

How can you create a safe place at home geared toward food and body image? Campbell Brown and therapist, Sissy Goff, share insight on addressing teenage eating disorders, body image concerns, and emotional well-being in kids.

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Connect with Rachel Faulkner Brown and Campbell Brown and catch more of their thoughts at and on Instagram @bestillministries.

Want to learn more about eating disorders, check out this FamilyLife Todayepisode and get more on the biblical view of eating disorders

This week, for a donation of any size, we'll send you The Worry-Free Parent: Living in Confidence So Your Kids Can Too by Sissy Goff's our way of saying a huge "Thank you!" for partnering with us toward stronger families around the world.

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Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

In this day and time, I have never seen parents as discouraged, feeling as defeated, feeling as anxious, feeling as much like failures as I'm seeing today.

And I would not want parents who are listening to think, oh no, I'm already behind the eight ball. I didn't do all these things and I'm missing it. And I would say, you know, two things. One is I don't believe it's ever too late and two, that we serve a redemptive God. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

You can find us at This is Family Life Today. So I'm excited today because we have one of the world's best therapists, counselors in the studio. It's true.

Well, here's what I'm saying. She's not here to counsel me. I love her. Finally, finally, with all my broken ass, they brought counselors in here. They surprised me and put me on the couch.

Those are the best episodes. We all need fix. But today is, I think it's going to be a beautiful day. Me too. Sissy Goff, welcome back to Family Life Today. I'm so honored to be back with y'all and that I get to sit here with these two.

Yes. So we have Rachel Faulkner Brown and her daughter Campbell with us. And we've had a few great days with you two sharing your story of your mother daughter relationship. But Campbell, you've been really brave talking about your journey through anorexia. Thank you.

I mean, honestly, you're 16 years old and you want people to get help. So thank you for bringing this into the light because there's so many people that are struggling. And Rachel, we've had you on before. And I hope that all of our listeners will go back and listen to the last two days because your journey is something like as parents, we are so fearful for our kids to struggle or even be hospitalized. It can be our greatest fear. It's really scary. Yeah. I got to say, when I was listening to you, Campbell, the last couple of days, I'm looking at you sitting in a studio in Orlando, you know, beautiful, vibrant. And the story we heard the last two days is you are in a hospital, almost lost your life.

Yeah. And part of me is like every parent needs to hear your story because we give up. We think our kids are beyond hope. And your story for every one of us say God can resurrect and do great things.

And now we need Sissy to tell us what happened. And to help us. To help us as parents.

And I really hope moms or dads will give this to their kids. Do you think that would be helpful? Yes. Okay. Well, I'm just so grateful and honored to sit with the two of you and hear you talk about what this time has been like. And Sissy, before we start, will you share a little bit about what you do since we just said she's the best therapist ever. Well, I'm one of the longest therapists ever. I've been counseling kids and families for 30 years, which I can't even believe it's been that long. And I'm grateful to get to do it. It's this amazing place called Day Start Counseling Ministries. That's a little yellow house with a white picket fence where we have 13 human therapists, five dogs. Thanks to these amazing people.

Yes. And it is a privilege to get to do that work every day and sit with kids from about six up to 18. And we do a lot of work with parents, too. And out of that, I've gotten to write and speak and have a podcast myself and trying to help parents in a lot of different places and help kids, too. With the best books ever.

That's right. You are so kind. And can I tell just a quick story before we jump in? Please. Y'all have something to do about worry-free parents. Is this something we as parents are worrying about? Yes.

Certainly. And it's fascinating because doing this work 30 years, I've seen a lot of trends and a lot of things, a lot of shifts that happen. And I think probably 15 to 20 years ago, I was seeing an unbelievable amount of eating disorders among kids. And I saw it get better for a period of time.

And I have never read this statistically. This is anecdotally with the kids that I'm seeing in my practice. I saw a lot less kids for a while. And something happened in the pandemic. Yeah. And you think about it. I mean, we were at home around food.

None of us were our healthiest selves in any way. And I mean, if we were going to really oversimplify, from my perspective, where eating disorders can be hard, I would say it's about two primary things. One is a word y'all used a lot, shame. Shame and self-hatred. And the other is about control.

Yes. And you start off thinking you're going to control the food and the food ends up controlling you. Now what's the shame part? Well, I think it's this sense of I'm not enough, I'm not okay, I don't know who I am, I don't like myself. And I heard somebody once say, which I thought was fascinating, that with folks who lean towards being more anorexic, it's this sense of I don't like who I am and so I wish I could disappear.

And so I'm going to get smaller and smaller. And for people who struggle with bulimia, it's more I hate myself and I wish I could get rid of who I am. So almost the action mimics the shame inside.

With anorexia, it's like you're not allowed to take up space. Yes. That's a beautiful way to say that, Cabel.

Yeah, absolutely. And if we go back to the pandemic, we're all really out of control in some big ways. And so thinking about what you were talking about, about the switches that get flipped.

I love that idea. And I think also we were fighting. Marriages were struggling and kids were witnessing that. And I think parents and kids were fighting more. And I think, too, kids were home and scrolling more.

So there are so many factors during that time that ramped up the statistics. Now, what's a parent to do? I mean, talking to Rachel yesterday or maybe two days ago, when she said, I saw it, but I sort of thought it was thyroid or said it was thyroid. And I was like, I've done that a thousand times.

Like, I can see it, but I don't even step in it. I'm afraid to. Yeah, Dave and I would have these conversations. I say, I'm really concerned about naming one of our sons because of this and this. And he'd always say, he's fine.

He's great. And I was always wrong. Always. But there's a statistic that in a two-parent household, there's usually an anxious parent and a non-anxious parent.

And the non-anxious parent is often dismissed when it comes to some of these weightier issues. Mine was more denial. I didn't want to face it. And when I heard you say that, Rachel, I was like, that's what I would have done.

I'm seeing things. I grew up emotionally bankrupt. You know, I mean, we talked about that the last time I was on the podcast. Like when you grow up not feeling, not feeling, you know, not really tuned into your emotions, like anything hard feels so upsetting to the apple cart, especially when it comes to your children.

Yeah. Well, and that's I mean, what's a parent to do? That's where I want parents to start is I want every family, even before your kids can read, I want you to be passing feelings around the dinner table. And I want everybody to be naming three feelings. I used to think or I remember thinking for the first time years ago when I was working with some early eating disorder folks thinking, I really love this work because so much of it in the beginning is just anchoring them to their feelings because they've gotten so disconnected because it becomes so much about control that I can't let myself feel. The more we can help kids early on, give them adequate words, help them understand their feelings, help them accept what they're feeling.

And I'm in this, this is maybe a separate topic, but I'm in a really big, I'm on a big soapbox right now about that. I do think culturally we're overdoing feelings to some degree that I believe feeling your feelings and doing your work is different, that doing your work involves feeling your feelings, but it's not all of it. And so helping kids name their feelings, understand their feelings, that we sit with a lot of empathy with those feelings, and then we help them work their way towards positive coping strategies.

So it's both. When's that feelings chart come out? Where do we get those?

We've got them on our website, Actually, right now we have some taco feelings charts. Okay, but let's say we have the feelings chart and our child says, I feel so sad. And some parents will be like, it's okay. What should a parent say when we come to those feelings?

Rachel looks like Rachel Brown would say that. This is me as well. But you're saying be empathetic. Sit with the feelings. And I would say sit with the feelings past the point of feeling comfortable, because I think based on our personality, some of us feel more uncomfortable with what probably the four of us grew up considering negative emotions. No emotions are negative. Emotions are just data.

But it can be hard to sit with someone who is a really deep feeler and maybe even gets a little stuck in it. I mean, I remember a client I was counseling said to me, I don't want to grow. I just want to be understood. And my first thought is I'm the wrong girl for you. I want to help you grow.

But I think we need to labor longer in understanding. So we need to start those early, because let's say Campbell that would have come out when you were 14 and your mom would say, hey, let's do the feelings chart. I've been doing the feelings chart. Like I'm completely excluded from this all feelings are like data because I grew up in dialectical behavioral therapy. The only thing I want to say is like with eating disorders, your brain is so depleted because you're not eating enough fat, especially with anorexia. So I'm just going to speak to anorexia because I don't really have the margin to speak about anything else. But when you have anorexia, fat is the enemy. And when you don't have fat, your brain cannot function on a regular level. So feelings go out the window and it's only stop, drop and roll, you know, fire safety, like just traumatic control is all of your brain can do. So you give it a task and the brain completes that one task and your one task.

What is it? Don't eat. So that's the only thing you can think about. So you shut down. There's no rational. There's no I mean, you see this. Oh, no rational thinking. No rational thinking.

It is black and white. It is this or that. Sleep is no longer sleep.

Sleep is just closing your eyes and you wake up just as tired as you want to be. And you don't want to die. I mean, you don't want to die. You kind of do at one point.

Yes, at some point, but like you just want it to be a form of self-harm. Yeah, for sure. So if you're trying to talk to your daughter or son about feelings and they're resistant, they're not going to go there. Right.

What do you do? Well, I mean, I think we want to start way, way, way, way earlier because at that point it is a moot point. I mean, we're not going to get there.

They're not going to talk about it. But I think otherwise I would just make it a part of your family practice where we're regularly doing this. And then I think with older kids who aren't where you were, certainly, I think we've got to be sneaky. If you have a 14, 15 and 16 year old and you say, let's pass the feelings test on the table, they're going to roll their eyes.

Are you okay? Right, yes. But I think instead we think about when can we sit up a little bit later.

They come in from being out with their friends and kids are more vulnerable. All the things. For sure. When can we lean in that they might be a little more willing to talk and that we just, we stop doing as much of the talking and we say things like, tell me more about that.

I'd love to hear more. And at the first signs, which you are not giving yourself enough credit. You were on top of it. You were texting me. Yeah, I was. But I think that's the thing.

It was too late. It was like that combination of like going gluten free and paying more attention to what you're eating. So it was like this real tricky thing. And then in June, this, you know, we have this call out and I'm like, no, I mean, we have a thyroid problem. We have an ovary issue. I will say this to that point. I saw this thing in the New York Times.

And I think this would be such a great thing to tell parents, but at dinner to talk to your family and you can do this even at a dinner party. What is the rose of the day? What is the thorn of the day and what is the bud?

The bud. What are you looking forward to? What's the problem?

What are you struggling with in your life? What's the thorn? And then what's the rose?

What's something that you celebrate today that happened to you? And I thought it's those conversations compounded interest in those type conversations that get your kids talking. I feel like those little simple questions are where the gold is. And you know that.

You got millions of those in your books. But I just saw that this week. I was like, I've never heard that. And that is really good. It is really good. I think as we're thinking about food, again, you have done a beautiful job, you two. Thank you. If you haven't heard, go back and listen to all these episodes because there's so much about what you can do along the way. And so I want to kind of keep moving back and saying preventatively.

I love this. So I want you as a family to not talk about food. I remember a mom saying to me, I'm teaching my daughter all about healthy fat and non-healthy fat so she'll be able to make good choices later on. That child ended up years later in my office with an eating disorder because her mom was emphasizing to a really unhealthy degree food. And I think to our credit, our generation, our parents weren't teaching us anything. And they were saying every morning.

I know. And I'm watching Mad Men right now, which maybe I shouldn't say that. But the degree that they were so unhealthy in their choices, I think we don't know what we're doing. And so it's easy to feel like you need to overcompensate. And the research I've read certainly says just don't talk about it. Don't talk about food.

Don't talk about choices. Don't talk about weight to your children. And what I say to parents often is make it a non-issue. I had a pediatrician who came up to me after a seminar one time and she said, I try to keep really healthy food in my house. We exercise as a family, but not because it's more because we want to go for a walk or bike ride than we want to exercise.

And she said, and I regularly drive through McDonald's and get my kids frost because I want them to have a sense of balance. And I don't want it to feel like this is a boundary we're putting in place that creates more rigidity. But I would also say, if you are listening and you're worried about your child's weight, which it's easy for parents to do.

And I think we cannot be worried about it from just the way they look. We can be worried about it from a health issue. And what I say to parents all the time is I want you to pick up the phone and call the pediatrician. Express your concern to that doctor. Let the doctor handle it on your next visit. Because if we're saying it's about control and you as a parent all of a sudden start saying, oh, haven't you already had CHIPS today?

Didn't you already have? Then you're fighting your child for control. And so it's like that game where you stack hands and they're going to fight you harder. So let the pediatrician handle it. If the pediatrician sees your child and says they're okay, then they're okay. And let it go. And that becomes more your issue than actually the child. I mean, that sounds so interesting. I know. Because so often we say, here, talk about everything. I know. And here I'm saying, don't talk about it. Don't say anything. I know. I know. Especially if you saw not even the anorexic side, but if you thought, my child's getting fat.

Like a binge eating disorder. I need to bring this up. And you're saying, let somebody else bring it up. Let somebody else do it. And for any parents... A professional.

Yes. For any parents listening to this right now, and if you're worried about your kid's weight, there's one good resource that I would recommend would be this woman who has a website. It's Mama Knows Nutrition. And it's a way for you to have the information without putting that information on your kids. If you're worried about your kid's weight, call your pediatrician.

Don't bring it up to your kid. And then it's little things. She's a registered dietitian, MSRDN. And I just think that's really great if you need that resource.

Yes. I am going through all my parenting things because healthy is important to me. But you don't want them to just eat junk.

So you are trying... So you keep healthy food in your house. Okay. But you're the gatekeeper.

But you're not talking about being healthy and how you shouldn't eat that. And you're just keeping the good things in the house. Yes. And I'm going to push on women. Mm-hmm.

I do. We've got to be really aware of what we're saying in front of kids. Oh, yeah. I remember a girl whose mom was thinner than she was that I counseled. And she said, my mom talks about her body so much and how much she doesn't like it.

If she thinks that about herself, I can't imagine what she thinks when she looks at me. Oh. And I'm going to go a step further and really call some of us out. But I think in this age of social media, I feel... I have to say this.

I feel concerned about even influencer culture. Yeah. Agreed.

Because I think just who I am and have always felt like this, I think adolescence... She's basically clapping. I feel this on another level. I'm so glad.

Campbell, high five. You were preaching to a choir. Yes.

Okay. Keep going, sissy. I think there's that sense of I'm 16 and I need to be cooler than my mom.

And here my mom's all over social media looking really cool, maybe trying to look cool. And so what does that mean that I believe about myself? And so do I quit caring about it and go the opposite? Or do I feel like I end up competitive with her? I just think it's got to be so confusing.

And I am very curious what we're going to see in 10 years that life felt like growing up in this influencer culture. I mean, I just think it's really tough. And I'm just one guy in a room full of women. You're doing great.

It's the best day ever. You know what? You're amazing. You know, sissy, what you're saying, you're the expert on this, but I think guys are doing this more and more. And so I would say to the dads, be careful. You're more conscious than you've ever been in your life.

Ever. And part of it's the influencer and the culture. But yeah, I could care less 20 years ago now. I'm like, look at my body. It's just crazy. But I'm seeing covers of men, superhero movies, and these guys are sculpted. And you're like, who can look like that?

They actually do look like that. And we're putting that on our boys. Right. So I think the costume is there for us as dads as well.

Absolutely. Be very careful. And you've got rowing culture and wrestling culture. And you've got all these bodybuilders that are obsessed with weigh-ins. I mean, Davis' friends, they're weighing in and wearing zoot suits and cutting.

And I can't have that today. I'm like, if you had any tendency or trauma on board, I would be terrified. I mean, just listen to them. And I know a lot of people do it and wrestling's been a thing for years. But I'm like, wow, that's scary. It's intense for boys. Yeah, and cross country. Also, I feel like we don't address boys eating disorders enough.

Agreed. Because if a girl's skinny, it's like, something's not right here. But if a guy's skinny, he just has a fast metabolism.

He's not struggling. Guys are just naturally skinnier. And sometimes guys aren't naturally skinnier. And I see so many men struggling with eating disorder. One of my best friends struggled with an eating disorder.

And he didn't tell anybody, except for me. Because I struggled with that. But it's like, the wrestling is the cross country.

It's like, I have to be lighter if I'm skinnier. It's the control. It's the anxiety.

It's all of these things. And it's really hard. And I posted this thing on my Instagram the other day. And I was like, but is that really your dream body if it's a nightmare to get there? Mmm.

That's a great statement. Oh, that's Campbell. Deep Campbell. My girl. Thank you. Can we back up and talk about counseling? Yes.

Like, I love all the backing up. No, you're saying such great, important things. I think all these things, early on, if you have the intuition, something's off. Even if you're married to a non-anxious spouse and they say it's fine.

Sorry. It never was fine, by the way. I think parents' intuition is their superpower. Agreed. And so if you at all feel like, huh, that seems off, she's wearing too many layers, or he's talking a lot about the check-in, go to counseling. Go ahead and find a counselor because I just think we can't do that early enough. We can't be proactive enough. And to me, a good counselor would see your child three times and say, hey, they're fine. They don't need to come back. Sometimes as a parent, we just don't want the battle.

I know. It's like, okay, I'm going to make an appointment and they're going to have a fit. So how do we get them there? Well, can I tell you my favorite statement someone ever said to me about while they told their kids they're going to counseling, they told their daughter and she didn't want to do it. And this mom said, honey, my job as your parent is to build your team. And so we have people that are on your medical team that are your doctors. We have people on your academic team that are your teachers.

Of course, I would have someone on your emotional team that are going to be your counselors. And so it's just going to be the deal. And we may go three times and then not again for a while, but we're going to have somebody that when things come up, you can say, I want to go see blank, which I just think what a beautiful, healthy approach. I wish I would have had that. I know. Honestly, me too. Me too.

Good. And then I think, get them to the building. And every counselor who's been doing it any length of time has walked out to the car and convinced a very oppositional child in the building. We have all done it.

I've had fan doors slammed on my side. This is part of our job. That's why we do what we do with kids, because hopefully we're good at drawing them in. So if you can get them there, I definitely have had parents brought their kids. I think too, Sissy, like recognizing that if you do have trauma, if divorce has been your story, if death has been your story, if dad's an alcoholic, if you have trauma in your family, abuse of any kind, if you know the child's been abused, preemptively, that child probably, whether they're struggling or not, and then they can go three times, but at least you have that person on board. When they do get in a crisis, they have a relationship. I think that's a big deal too, like being proactive, because if you know there's parts of your story that haven't been easy, that child is much more likely to struggle.

Yes, absolutely. Anything else, Sissy, that would be that we need to know as parents? Right now, in this day and time, I have never seen parents as discouraged, feeling as defeated, feeling as anxious, feeling as much like failures as I'm seeing today.

And even thinking about these conversations that are just crucial in the lives of kids, I would not want parents who are listening to think, oh no, I'm already behind the eight ball. I didn't do all these things and I'm missing it. And I would say two things. One is I don't believe it's ever too late, and two, that we serve a redemptive God. And the fact that Campbell is sitting here and expressing herself as beautifully as she is and that this is your story.

I was sitting in a room as you were recording your other episodes and just blown away by what you're saying. And it reminded me of the verse that I love to use the most with kids who are struggling and feeling their own sense of self-hatred, shame, all of those things. It's 1 John 3, 18 through 20, and it says, this is in the message, it says, my dear children, let's not just talk about love, let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. That's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there's something to it, for God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. Isn't that beautiful?

New bio verse. It's the way to answer when we have that voice of self-hatred that when we give, when we experience having purpose, which is what you're doing right now. So I hope that carries you for a long way. Well, just to feel like you're making a difference.

And I think as we're talking about emotions, as we're talking about coping strategies, I think one of the best things we can do and that we can help lead kids towards is making a difference somewhere else and having a sense of purpose. I think too, Sissy, you know, without a vision, the people perish and so many parents don't have a vision for their child healed. And that was one thing that Karen who David and I know Karen was with me when we came down here and recorded and she said, Rachel, you cannot use your eyes when you're in the hospital because I couldn't use my eyes. What I saw was death. What I saw was destruction. What I saw was pain. And she said, you've got to get a vision for what Campbell can be. And so I held this vision of her in this outfit that I loved her, it was this baby blue outfit and her hands were up and she was dancing like she was at a homecoming dance. And she was just totally free from her body. And I've held that vision for a year, but I do think I held on to what the Lord was showing me was true. That was what was true of Campbell.

That was what the possibility was. But I held it. I held it so tight, y'all, because I could not use my eyes. And I think for so many parents, we just don't have a vision of our kids healed because we haven't been given almost permission. It's like we're so in it, we can't even get a sense of that. And so I would just say to any parent listening, get a vision for what it can be, what your child looks like, what they could be doing, heal, whole and delivered. I think that's what he saw and she was in that same outfit this summer, you know, healed and with me and on a trip and I was like, this is it.

This is my vision in that exact same outfit. And I think that's a really good reminder that there is a team, Jesus, the Trinity, the Father, the Son that are cheering for us because that vision is who he created you to be, Campbell, who he's created all of us to be. And so even as parents to cry out to that team, like, God, we can't do it, I can't do it. We need you desperately and he's here, he's the best team ever.

And so to cry out to him, he loves you, he loves your kids. And Campbell, I just want to say one last time, like we are incredibly proud of you. Thank you for all you're saying, all you're doing, you're impacting so many and you haven't been out of it very long.

Sometimes it's easy to wait 30 years, as you said, but you are like, I want to help people now. Yeah. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for letting me talk. And Sissy, Rachel, thanks, you guys. Honored to be with y'all.

Proud of you, Campbell. Admitting that we can't do it isn't a bad place to be as a young person or parents. And some people might go, why? Why is that not a bad thing? Well, because it means in those moments that we're going to God for strength, the strength that we lack. Moving toward him is what it means to be in relationship with him. And our weakness is a doorway to God's strength showing up in our lives.

And that's what I've witnessed here today. I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Rachel Faulkner Brown, Campbell Brown, and Sissy Goff on Family Life Today. Now, Sissy has written a book called The Worry-Free Parent, living in confidence so your kids can too. This book is going to be our gift to you when you give today at You can get your copy now with any donation that you give, again, by going online to Just click on the donate now button at the top of the page, or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Or feel free to drop us something in the mail if you'd like to.

Our mailing address is Family Life 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida 32832. So what is one of the most important things you can do for your family? I think the answer would be understand God more deeply and know him more intimately.

In a word, that's called theology. It's the most important thing in the world for you and your family. Well, how is that significant?

Well, more than you know. And tomorrow, Jen Wilkin and JT English are going to talk about the significance of theology. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 06:42:48 / 2024-02-21 06:56:23 / 14

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