Before we talk about how you can help reconcile your mental health issues with your parenting, you owe it to yourself to better understand your own condition, whatever it may be and avail yourself to the plethora of help that’s out there. You’ll find that the more you know about mental health in general and your own condition specifically, the better equipped you’ll be to have a frank and open discussion with your kids. Many people even find that better understanding their own conditions equips them to help others in similar conditions and go into counselling or caring careers. While you can study a master in school counselling online, simply liaising with a mental health professional and researching your condition online can give you a great headstart. You should also check out the help available at Parentingwell.org, a website specifically for parents experiencing mental health issues.
Talk to your kids
You may be apprehensive about opening up to your mental health problems to your kids, but an open and honest dialogue is always the best way to broach the subject. Children are very astute and perceptive, and well attuned to the emotional fluctuations of those around them, and it’s better to be frank about the subject when your children are cognizant enough to understand it rather than leaving them to guess. Children, after all, have a worrying habit of internalizing their anxieties and the last thing you want is for them to blame themselves for your apparent upset or distress.
If you’re at all unsure of how to open up this dialogue it’s a good idea to talk to a mental health professional about the best way to do this.
Children can react in a wide range of ways to any form of vulnerability from their parents (whom they tend to assume are unilaterally indestructible). Your children can react in a number of ways and it’s important to be prepared for any eventuality:
You know your children better than anybody and you may have some idea how well they will react. Over time, however, even if their initial reaction was negative they will eventually come to terms with, and be supportive of, your issues.