Can a person recovering from a mental health condition practice good parenting? Do you want to learn how to parent in recovery? Although this can be a challenging area, it is not entirely impossible. If you are a parent, your presence is important to a child’s wellness. While it is not easy to completely focus on self-care at the expense of neglecting their needs, there are a lot of ways you can improve on both.
The Challenges of Good Parenting
Even for people without a mental health disorder, good parenting can be challenging. Patience and skills are both important. For parents in recovery from a mental health disorder, it is important to understand how their own behaviors affect the child. A responsible parent would try to minimize the psychological harm or trauma at home.
Generally speaking, parental mental illness may pose biological and environmental risks for children. However, this is not a deterministic perspective. It is mainly through familial relationship dysfunctions that children are being affected. Once you understand this, then you will need to prioritize the normal functioning of family life.
The Psychological Burden of Parenting
You need to understand the extra psychological stress that is involved in parenting. For example, if you are recovering from depression, it can be difficult to manage your fatigue when you have an excited child in the room. There is no guarantee for your own rest and recovery.
Mental illnesses may rob you of some basic abilities to be present and engaged with children. For example, some people struggling with anxiety disorders can react in damaging ways to the parent-child relationship. People who are recovering from PTSD may find their children’s behaviors or situations triggering, which may cause them to feel overwhelmed.
Parenting is demanding because children naturally observe and absorb a parent’s behaviors, including both positive and negative sides. If you display anger, frustration, despair, or grief on a daily basis, these negative emotions will form a grey cloud over a child’s head. Then you may feel guilty about not being able to cheer up, and that guilt will only make things worse.
When to Practice Self-Care vs. When to Parent
Parenting can bring a lot of stress. Being present with your child can be demanding. Therefore, it is important to set up a rhythm for yourself and practice self-care. Warning signs of needing to practice self-care include increased stress levels, lack of concentration, and agitation. Good parenting requires you to make time for yourself as well.
When practicing self-care, make sure your spouse or another trustworthy caretaker can support your child during that time. You may want to communicate with your child that you need a few hours or a day to get better from an illness. When you come back to be present with your child, make sure you try to be responsive, engaging, and attentive.
Good Parenting and the Risk of Neglecting Self-Care
It can be hard to find a balance between self-care and good parenting. You should be aware of what stage of recovery you are in, and gradually phase into or out of some parenting responsibilities. For example, maybe you can discuss with a supportive spouse or partner about letting you do the “light” parenting tasks for a while. These may include driving the kids back and forth from school.
Knowing that your child needs you in their development should motivate you to diligently practice self-care. Neglecting self-care by overworking or not being able to relax can gradually build up to high risks in parenting. Common behaviors, such as verbal and physical abuse to children, can be detrimental in the long term.
Effective self-care is the foundation of repairing and maintaining healthy marital or family relationships. When your relationships with other adults in the home begin to improve, the health benefits will trickle down to the children, who tend to thrive in a conflict-free home environment.
How to Get Support
Both you and your child need extra support during this phase of recovery. Depending on your child’s age, it may help to talk with them about your mental illness. Many children may form self-guilt when their parents feel disengaged. Explaining what a mental illness is can help them understand and learn how to cope.
Accepting help from family and friends is essential for a parent in recovery. But at this stage, you need to do everything you can, including seeking treatment and attending support group meetings. You need trusted family and friends to babysit so that you can have the time to participate in these recovery processes.
In order to provide extra support for your child’s social and emotional development, you can try to build more protective measures that can benefit your child. For example, this could include involving loving family and friends to bond with and care for the child. Enroll your child in fun activities and encourage hobbies that can build up self-esteem. Seek support from school teachers and parent advocacy groups.
Good Parenting Goals
Below are some goals for your child’s development:
• They see warm and loving adult relationships around them.
• They have positive peer relationships.
• They have positive self-esteem.
• They are able to articulate their feelings.
• They have good coping skills when feeling down.
• They are interested in school and succeed academically.
• They have healthy social interactions outside the home.
Good parenting involves you monitoring your child’s development. If you have concerns about any of the above-listed areas, you can always seek help from health care professionals who specialize in children psychology and counseling.
Mental health conditions have a way of altering your behaviors. For parents who are recovering from mental illness, their behaviors and emotions can create risk factors for the wellbeing of a child. Parenting with a mental health condition demands more support from family, friends, and health care professionals. You need to ensure enough time and resources for continuing treatment. Staying connected with a team of mental health experts who provide continued care is your best bet. Virtual continued care may work better in your situation. The entire goal is to help you get better and become a more engaged parent. Connect with our team at Mindfuli today to get virtual care support on your mental health journey (866) 973-4415