Mental Health Awareness Month: Parenting

Many people find parenting to be the most rewarding job on the planet. However, nothing can ever fully prepare you for becoming a parent. Trying to be a good parent could take a toll on the mental health of the average person. It can be even more challenging to be a good parent to those who struggle with mental health issues prior to becoming a parent. This is why it is essential that you are taking care of your mental health, so your children get the best chance to grow up happy and healthy. This blog will discuss the impact on children whose parents struggle with mental health and discuss ways to prevent mental health issues from causing harm to your children.

Children are very receptive to what is going on around them and are highly aware of changes in their parents’ emotions. With that being said, if your child is old enough, you might want to consider having an informative talk with them about your mental health – if you are ready. This will help them to better understand some of your behaviors. You may also consider speaking with your doctor or therapist about having a family session to discuss your mental health.

Simply being a parent and having a mental health condition does not mean that you will cause harm to your child. You may not even genetically pass any mental health issues down to your children. However, if your mental health goes untreated and begins to affect your behavior and relationships, then it will affect your child, and you could even lose custody. There are risk factors that could also increase the likelihood of a parent’s mental health condition having a negative impact on their children. Those risk factors could include poverty, issues at work or in a marriage, domestic violence situations, poor communication, and substance abuse disorders. Many of these risk factors are preventable by using protective factors. Protective factors help children develop the resilience to be able to overcome difficult situations that come up. Those preventative factors include a sense of being loved by their well-functioning parents, positive self-esteem, positive peer relationships, excelling at school, and being able to share their feelings.

According to Mental Health America, only one-third of children with a parent who has a serious mental illness are being raised by that parent. To ensure that families stay together, parents need to know their legal rights and create a self-care plan to be the best version of themselves and strengthen their parenting skills. In addition, child protective service workers and our legal system need to better educate themselves on responding to those in a mental health crisis and advocating for reform within the system. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, seek help.

Family Builders offers a parenting program that includes parent-child observations. We also provide parent-child interaction therapy as well as supervised visitations to those who need it. Contact 405-232-8226 or email for more information.

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