A look at the burdens of parenting children with bipolar disorder alone:
Stresses of a special situation
Raising a child with a brain-based disorder is difficult enough, but when you’re a single parent, the stressors in these situations are magnified. There are pressures that are unique to your situation, and will be challenging to navigate alone. Being the only disciplinarian to a child with bipolar will require good pre-planning and skills. This is especially true if there are siblings in the picture and how you react to certain behaviors is different to each child.
Design a plan
Having a plan for as many difficult situations can be helpful instead of flying by the seat of your pants. The challenge itself may still be hard, but at least knowing how you’re going to handle it will relieve some pressures. Also, communicating this to your son or daughter (and/or their siblings) is an important part of this plan so they know what to expect. This is especially helpful for the challenges of the ‘morning routine’ when trying to get yourself ready for work and trying to deal with a behavior issue with your child.
Knowledge is power
It’s difficult to fight a fight you don’t truly understand. While there’ll always be something to learn about with pediatric bipolar, educating yourself as much as possible will help tremendously. Knowing what you can expect, what kind of treatments are out there, and how to handle certain behaviors can free you up to provide patience and love to your child. To save time, there are now a lot of very helpful online resources to learn from. There are also helpful resources to learn about the education system and your rights.
Seek to share
Within a two-parent household, there are myriad things to talk about when a child struggles with a brain-based disorder. Medication choices, discipline issues, education decisions, having the most difficult conversations with your child, alone. Going through this disorder alone is difficult enough, but when there’s no one to talk to about it at the end of a trying day, can be very lonely. Seek the support of someone you can share your experiences with – whether it’s family, a caring friend or someone in a support group.
Ask for help
As you’ve discovered there are difficult times during the day that need specific help i.e. someone to be there when your child gets home from school. Or how you can take time off of work to take your child to the many psychologist appointments, or to the lab for blood work, or to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions etc… If you have access to extended family or additional support, ask for their help. Keep in constant contact with your child’s school psychologist and teachers so you’re always aware what’s working and what accommodations you can ask for.
There are ways to find support for both yourself and for your child. There are online forums and support groups, especially when you don’t have the means or time to get out to meetings. Some single parents have been resourceful in being able to move in with their parents or they’ve even banded together to share childcare chores, sometimes even sharing a home with another single mom or dad. Others have found ways to ensure reliable, safe after-school care through school-based programs or community resources.
Let go of guilt
Trying to do the impossible every day and strive for perfection, is setting yourself up for failure and the ensuing guilt. Because you may not have the resources that other families do, you could already feel like you’re not adequately managing things and helping your child. Don’t let this guilt consume you; this will only make you sick. Realize you are doing the best you can do…and that’s all any of us can do in this one life.
Judgment from others
You may find that some children hold their emotions in check at school, but let their emotions fall apart when in the safety of their own homes. This disparity in behavior can lead to teachers, other parents and even family and friends making the incorrect assumption that it’s something you’re doing wrong. If your child is exhibiting difficult behavior at home, it’s got to be your fault, others believe incorrectly. Remember that no one can truly know or understand what you deal with on a daily basis. You are doing your best for your child and yourself and you can’t control the perception of others.
The dating game
It will be difficult to form an emotional bond when all your emotions are tied to your child and you may even wonder if you have anything left over to give. You’ll likely wonder about the best time to tell the person about your home-life situation. If you do decide to head down that road with someone, he/she will surely be special, compassionate and brave in order to accept the roller coaster ride and accepting your child comes first no matter what. At the end of the day, dating should be enjoyable so try not to stress too much about that. Let it happen.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community