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Just for Dads: The Dad's Initiative

Dads are important to their daughters' recovery from eating disorders
Dads are important to their daughters' recovery from eating disorders
Andrea Squibb

A forum for Dads of daughters with eating disorders is in the planning stages. The "Dads Initiative", as it is currently being called, will be a place where Dads can connect with one another and find resources to aid them in the eating disorder healing process. The initiative was born when Don Blackwell, a Father to a daughter in the throngs of an eating disorder and author of "Dear Ashley..."- A Father's Reflections and Letters to His Daughter on Life, Love and Hope", realized that the Dads he was hoping to advise and share with were hard to come by at his speaking engagements. The vast majority of his audience was women. After speaking with Mothers of daughters with eating disorders and a number of prominent experts from around the country, Don decided that something needed to be done to bring Fathers closer into the fold. Something needed to be done to create a place for them to go to and learn how to get through the difficulties of the disorder and how to positively impact their daughters' recovery. Mothers and experts agreed. Don and other advocates, including Keesha Broome, licensed marriage and family therapist and Clinical Director of Los Angeles based Monte Nido Treatment Center, are working to create that something now.
Keesha is similarly passionate about the topic and initiative. She too has given presentations on the roles Dads play in their daughters' eating disorders. In her private practice, as well as through her work at Monte Nido, she has seen first-hand countless examples of how a Father can influence his daughter's eating disorder and recovery both positively and negatively. The focus is often on the Mother's influence but Keesha speaks confidently to how a Father's role can be equally, if not more, important.
Don and Keesha feel Fathers need to be educated, empowered and encouraged to actively participate in their daughters lives and recovery in order to give them the greatest chance for success. Dads need to understand that eating disorders are real and life-threatening. They need to learn to validate their daughters’ struggles and respond to them in a healthy, loving and non-judgmental way. They need guidance on how to support their significant others in day-to-day support responsibilities. Keesha stated in a recent presentation on the subject at the Eating Disorder Center of California in Los Angeles, "Dads need to be part of the "front line" activities central to their daughters’ recovery". A Father's own eating behavior and attitudes about weight, body image and exercise are just as important as a Mother's where children are concerned.
As a woman and daughter of an absentee father, I cannot imagine what it is like to be the Dad of a daughter with an eating disorder but with a little luck and a lot of work, it appears that Don and Keesha will soon have created a place where others will have access to that answer. Keep an eye out for The Dad's Initiative- a place where Dads can connect and support each other.
For additional information on Don Blackwell please visit http://www.donblackwell.comwww. For information on Keesha Broome please visit New information on the Dads Initiative will be posted on both sites when available.