Mental illnesses are common even though they’re still considered a sort of a taboo. Millions of people struggle with some mental illness, and not all of them are single or without children.
Parenting with a mental illness is a complicated situation. These parents have a lot on their plates. They have to deal with their condition, which is never easy, but they also put up a lot from the society.
Parents with mental illnesses are largely misunderstood, and it’s not uncommon for people to consider them unfit parents. This article aims to shed some light on the problem that isn’t largely discussed nowadays.
It Is A Struggle
Parenting is not easy, but for persons with mental illnesses, it becomes even more difficult. Constant stress affects the way they think and act.
Challenges that come with a mental health condition become ten times more complicated when you also have to juggle between work, family, and efforts to minimize the impact of the disease on your child.
One study followed mothers with chronic mental illness and found that interpersonal, social, and economic factors associated with their condition influenced their parenting abilities.
Findings, published in the Health SA Gesondheid, also showed that mothers with mental illnesses experienced various challenges, but a family-centered approach to mental health care could be of huge help.
What we can learn from this study is that parenting abilities of persons with mental illness are determined by numerous factors. This unique situation is challenging, but although it seems nothing can be done, the family-based approach can help the affected individual.
What Parents With Mental Illnesses Want You To Know?
Even though we live in the 21st century, mental illnesses are still surrounded with a veil of secrecy. We know they exist and realize millions of people are affected; by there is a lot we don’t know about these problems.
Raising kids while a person is dealing with mental illness is a subject of numerous misconceptions. This happens primarily because most of us know nothing about this unique situation.
Here is what every parent who’s struggling with mental illness wants you to know:
- They’re not bad parents – It is not uncommon for people to assume a parent with a mental health problem is bad at parenting. Wrong! While these parents do face various challenges, they are not bad parents.
In fact, they do their best to care for their children despite the inner turmoil
- Every day is a new battle – A parent with mental health issue can feel okay and upbeat one day and depressed the other. Judging them for something they can’t control is wrong
- They’re not irresponsible – Just because someone forgets something, it doesn’t mean the person is an unfit parent. People with mental health problems can find it difficult to cope with changes; this also includes school and children.
This doesn’t mean they’re irresponsible for forgetting to bake cookies for school; they just don’t cope with these new things easily
- They don’t abuse their children – Maybe it’s because of those Hollywood movies or people have a wild imagination, but a common myth about parents with mental illnesses is that he/she hits their kids or abuses them verbally.
Symptoms of mental problems are numerous; they don’t necessarily include rage
- They are always worried about not doing enough for their children or trying to keep up with other parents
I’m A Parent With Mental Illness. What To Do?
If you are a parent who also struggles with mental illness, you are probably wondering what to do, how to overcome this problem and give your children a healthy and happy life they deserve.
Remember one thing; you can feel better! In order to do so, you need to seek help. The problem occurs when most people refuse to seek help because they are scared of being judged or publicly shamed.
Consulting your doctor or a therapist is the first and most important step to take. For example, the therapist can help you uncover triggers or underlying causes that make you feel the way you do.
At the same time, the therapist also explains how you can handle different situations. Managing your mental illness is crucial for improving parenting skills.
Instead of isolating yourself and your child from other people or family members, you should strive to be more social. Social isolation is detrimental for you and your kid.
What’s more, scientists agree it is highly important to surround yourself with supportive, positive people who will generate pleasant mood.
Identify Your Strengths
When you are dealing with a mental illness, you don’t really think about your strengths. In fact, most people see no strengths and assume everything they do is a sign of weakness.
A practical thing to do is to identify and celebrate your strengths. Scientists explain you can build on strengths, but not on failure.
Being aware of your strengths gives a major boost to your confidence and inspires you to keep making little steps toward recovery each day.
Sign Up Your Kids For Activities
It is important for your child to participate in all sorts of activities. As a parent with mental health problems, you may feel overwhelmed with different dates and obligations.
Enrolling your child in programs with different activities (school or out) is also beneficial for you as well. These programs allow your child to spend quality time with peers and adults, thus developing social skills.
Yet another benefit of signing up your child for a hobby is that he/she won’t miss out on anything. They won’t feel deprived of something because a parent doesn’t feel well mentally.
Connect With Others
You’re not the only parent with a mental health problem, and that’s a good thing. An important part of your recovery is connecting with others and exchanging experiences.
This way you feel understood and not completely alone. You can connect with other parents online or through school, work, forums, you name it.
Being a parent is tough, especially if you struggle with some mental health problem. Parents who deal with these issues are misunderstood, and their situation is linked with numerous myths and misconceptions.
Proper treatment options can, indeed, make you feel better. Schedule an appointment and see your doctor or therapist today.