Last night, I returned from NEDA’s 2012 Annual Conference. It was a very memorable and important couple of days, which began with my having dinner with Dr. Michael Berrett on Thursday evening, a beautiful and compassionate man who I admire and respect a great deal. In fact, the Conference afforded me the opportunity to meet a number of prominent people in the eating disorder field, including: Dr. Gayle Brooks, Carolyn Costin, Dr. Doug Bunnell, Dr. Kim McCallum and Kirsten Haglund- to name a few. By all accounts, my Friday presentation, “Navigating in Uncharted Waters,” was enthusiastically and warmly received by all who attended. Indeed, I was truly was touched by the kind and affirming words I received from each one of the moms, ED sufferers, clinicians and NEDA representatives who attended my talk, both immediately after I finished and throughout the day on Saturday. It was clear to me that all of them appreciated and were encouraged by the fact that “a dad” would actually stand up and share his feelings about his daughter’s courageous struggle in such an intimate and honest way.
Still, I was troubled and saddened that in a Conference population of several hundred, I only counted 3 non-NEDA affiliated dads in attendance. In my mind that has to change (i.e., dads need to take a more active role in the process and allow themselves to be more available to and vulnerable with their suffering and/or recovering daughters) or young women afflicted with eating disorders will be “missing” an integral piece of the treatment and recovery puzzle. I took my lingering concerns about the sparcity of dads on my Sunday morning walk and returned with an idea. Earlier today, I reached out to NEDA and offered to spearhead a national campaign tentatively entitled, “The Dad Initiative” – Dads and Daughters Committed to Healing, United in Hope, whose goals will include, among other things, ensuring that at least 100 dads attend NEDA’s 2013 Annual Conference in our Nation’s Capital. I believe that, with NEDA’s support and assistance, I can make this happen and in the process change (or save) a life or two. Hoping NEDA will enthusiastically embrace the idea!