Parenting is a tough yet rewarding job. You want to do all that you can to protect and care for your children. But when your child is diagnosed with a chronic illness, and you know you can’t protect him, you and your spouse will need support like never before. Remember these tips as you love and care for your child through his illness.
1. Develop a support system
You and your spouse will need to support each other so that taking care of your child is less stressful. You will need someone to talk to who understands what you are going through, and your spouse is the best person for that emotional support.
You can also find support groups that understand what you are going through. Hospitals may have support groups or know where to find them. Do not hesitate to join a group if you need to, and do not feel guilty about it. It is normal to have the feelings you might be having during this challenging time.
2. Share the care
The two of you can share caring for your child so that one of you does not get overwhelmed or overstressed. The American Psychological Association states that a study showed that moms and dads faced similar stressors when caring for an ill child, but moms had higher stress levels, probably because they are the child’s primary caregiver. Taking care of your child also means taking care of your spouse by sharing in the care you give your child.
3. Be a support team for your child
Not only is your child having to deal with the physical side of the illness, but he also has to deal with the emotional and social side of it as well. Children will feel isolated, depressed, and lonely. Provide opportunities for your child to experience his childhood as much as possible.
If your child is able to attend school, he will be faced with uncomfortable situations that leave him feeling like an outcast. This is especially distressing to children as they just want to fit in and be “normal.”
Help your child know what to tell kids who ask questions about his illness. Be a support team, but don’t be overprotective either. Be there for him in the way that he needs, or find the professional help he needs.
4. Don’t forget the other family members
Other family members may be experiencing emotional difficulties as well. Siblings will also face situations at school that they will need help knowing how to handle. They may also feel anger, resentment, or fear. Help them understand that their feelings are normal.
5. Take care of yourself
Your child needs you to be at your best so that you can properly take care of him, so you will need to take care of yourself as well. Be sure to get good rest. Allow others to help in areas that they can do for you. Take breaks when you can.
Do not let the stress dissolve your relationships with the ones you love. Talk it out with each other, and resolve issues so that it does not interfere with your child’s care.
It is devastating when you find out your child is sick. If only you could take the illness upon yourself and save your child from the pain. But that is not how life works. The best way you can care for your child is by finding the support you need, sharing in the caretaking, supporting your child and other family members, and taking care of yourself. A hug here and there would not hurt either.