‘Ten Ways to Raise a Happier Child.’
‘The One Thing you can do to Anxiety Proof Your Child.’
‘How to Raise a Mentally Strong Child.’
The titles of these articles ring in my head.
I know I shouldn’t click, I know it will push my buttons. But I do it anyway.
I click and I read yet another article telling me the one (or ten) thing I should do to make sure my child is happy, resilient confident, and not anxious.
I read the first paragraph and skim the rest, not sure if I want to scream in frustration or cry.
The thing is, these articles are full of sound parenting advice.
Connect with your kids, challenge them, encourage intrinsic motivation. I agree with it all. It’s all good, it’s all important. I’m so glad there are so many wise people out there sharing this information, even I share this kind of advice sometimes.
But still I sit here, the screen going blurry, as tears fill my eyes.
It is good parenting advice, but for some kids, no amount of good parenting can make them happy, can magic them into being ‘mentally strong’, can ‘anxiety proof’ them.
Some kids struggle with mental health issues that even the best parenting in the world can’t fix.
My child struggles with mental health issues that I can not parent away.
Oh how I wish tackling the crippling anxiety, and the dark depression was as easy as changing the way we parent, or ticking off ten things on a list.
All those things help, but for some kids, it’s just not as simple as that.
So for all the parents out there who have a child who is struggling everyday with mental health issues that are beyond their control…
For all the parents who try so hard to do all the right things but still can’t find a way out of the darkness…
For all the parents who would give anything to make it better…
For all the parents who can’t help but click on those articles in the hope that maybe, just maybe, they will include an idea that we haven’t tried yet…
For all those parents who sit staring at the screen with tears in their eyes, telling themselves over and over ‘it’s not your fault, it’s not something you did or didn’t do’ but never quite believing it…
For all of us…
You are not a bad parent, you didn’t cause this, and you are not alone.
Keep reading articles, keep trying new things, keep juggling appointments, keep hoping, and keep going as best you can. You are doing a great job, and you are helping your child more than you ever give yourself credit for.
Do you have kids who struggle with mental health issues?
I have a child who struggles with anxiety and depression (and a few other associated issues).
When we first fell into this deep dark hole I felt like it would never get better, I felt like a total failure as a parent, and I felt so alone.
Because you can’t see mental health struggles, and because, by their very nature, they are often difficult for sufferers to talk about, they can be so hidden and isolating. But after a while, and with my child’s permission, I started talking more about our struggles with childhood mental health, and I soon realised that we were not alone. So many people reached to us and it was so powerful just to know we were ‘not the only ones’.
And so I am returning that favour. If you have a child who struggles with mental health issues I want you to know you are not alone.
Here are a few other things I’ve written about childhood mental health:
Please feel free to leave a comment, or send an email. I don’t have any answers, but I can certainly remind you that you are not alone.