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Here’s a question I bet you’ve never asked yourself: Am I hindering the progress of human evolution? You are if you’re an adult who has trouble standing up to and emotionally separating from your parents. “Individuation” will not only make it easier for you to become a “normal” eater, but it’s crucial to enhancing the gene pool!
One of the developmental tasks of becoming an adult is growing into a person who is different than your parents. Whether they make it easy or hard to do so is beside the point. As an adult, your goal is to reach the milestone in human development of thinking for and being accountable to yourself. This process occurs everywhere in the animal kingdom: Mom and Dad take care of Baby until Baby can fend for itself. In terms of humans, we might say that parents should give children roots to grow, then wings to fly.
Think of it this way, if humans discouraged their children from becoming independent, the latter would not grow up to live on their own and produce children, a must for perpetuating the species. Moreover, it’s vital to evolution that children vary somewhat from their parents so that our species reflects a broad spectrum of traits and competencies. If, throughout the ages, each of us were a carbon copy of our parents, how far would humans have evolved? Better that children mature into individuals who have some of the same values and traits as their parents and some different ones. This makes for generational continuity plus advancement of the species. Think like Darwin and remember that mutations are what keep us evolving!
Many disregulated eaters complain about intrusive, rigid, manipulative, controlling parents who become distressed or irate when their children want to live their own lives. Constantly harping on what to do and brooking no disagreement, they insist they want a child to be independent, while manipulating her/his dependence on them. This ongoing tension is one reason that troubled eaters abuse food and their bodies.
If you have yet to effectively emotionally separate from your parents, it’s time to pick up the pace of becoming your own person. It’s unnatural to think, feel and do everything like Mom and Dad. They may not like or expect you to be different, but you must recognize and value this process even if they don’t. Mentally healthy parents treat their children in age-appropriate ways and know that their job is to foster emotional separation. Any other parenting approach is destructive to individuation—and to troubled eaters becoming “normal” eaters who can think for themselves.
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