There is nothing worse for a parent then finding out that they have a health condition that will prevent them from fully being there for their children. Whether the result of an accident, surgery, or chronic illness, when you’re in pain on a consistent basis, the ability to be the nurturer, provider, and supporter is altered. Understandably, it can make parents feel angry, frustrated, sad, depressed, and even guilty. Though it is true you’ll need to alter your lifestyle to accommodate your health, it is also true that you can still be a great parent to your children.
Don’t Turn to Substances
When you’re unable to be 100 percent for your family, it’s only natural to want to do something to make things right. The burning urge to want to take more of your opioid prescription to feel better or turning to recreational drugs and alcohol to numb your own feelings so you can put your attention on your family is very common. It may provide some temporary resolve, but the truth is it can lead to a horrible cycle of addiction.
Even those who do seek treatment for opioid addiction have a hard time as some of the remedies prove to be ineffective. For example, the antidote to fentanyl known as Narcan has been proven not to be as effective on some recovering patients. This could mean needing longer rehab treatment and limits the time you can be there for your family. So, turning to substances like prescription drugs, street drugs, or alcohol is never the answer. If you’re afraid you are suffering from substance abuse or addiction, however, it is ideal that you find a facility that offers a sober living for women and/or men.
Talk to Your Kids
Being open and honest with your children (as they can comprehend it, anyway), is the most effective way to parent with chronic pain. Your children know that something is wrong because things have changed, but it’s up to you to tell them the details, how it may impact their lives, and to listen to their feelings. Opening up about your diagnosis, your limitations, and the changes it will have on the family makes it easier for everyone to process their emotions and be on the same page.
Enlist Some Help
Though you’re in pain your children still need to be cared for and the house still needs to be maintained. Asking for help doesn’t make you hopeless or weak, but instead lets friends and family know that you trust them and are willing to rely on them to help raise your children. Don’t be afraid to ask for volunteers to watch the kids, attend their events, do chores around the house, or even just to be a foundation of support to you emotionally. Since you want to keep the children’s schedule as normal as possible, asking people your kids love being with to help out helps them to get through the emotional effects of your chronic pain and condition.
Quality Time is Imperative
You may not be able to chase the kids around the house, play sports at the park, or go shopping at a mall for hours due to your chronic pain, but that doesn’t mean that you should eliminate the need for quality time. Spending time with them let them know you’re still there when they need you and helps to strengthen the parent-child relationship. Find things to do indoors like watch movies, play board games, or video games. On your good days, try to plan something special where you’re a bit more active and not in as much pain.
Take Care of You
Parents seem to forget this tidbit all the time, but it’s very important – take care of you. If you start to allow the guilt, emotional distress, and physical pain to get the best of you, it will only lead to other health problems and more issues for you and your family to cope with. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, following up on doctor’s appointments, finding things that bring you peace, eating a well-balanced diet, and exercising when you can. Seeing you in good spirits and otherwise good health, your children will find the resilience needed to get through this ordeal (which of course gives you the inspiration to push forward as well)
There are a lot of challenges a parent suffering from chronic pain will have to overcome. The debilitating pain can leave you physically and emotionally overwhelmed. Though you may feel guilty as if your condition makes it difficult for you to be a good parent, the truth is it won’t. If you talk to your children, get help from friends and family, spend quality time with your kids, and take care of yourself, you can love, support, and provide for your children just as you always have.