Parenting Kids with Challenges: Where are the casseroles?

I think you will agree with me that if you ask any parent what they are most afraid of the answer will almost always involve their children. We love our offspring, and we would do anything to keep them out of harm’s way. As parents we reach out with support and empathy when a friend’s child is sick. We know that illness can put a serious strain on a family and marriage, so we offer our help, and pray that it will never happen to our family.

Unfortunately the same can not be said for families of children with mental disorders. Parents often find themselves confused, alone, and ashamed. There is regrettably still a lot of guilt, shame, and unsolicited advice surrounding mental disorders. This is in part due to ignorance in our society when it comes to the brain, and it’s diseases: The brain has been called the “last frontier of the human body” because there is still a lot that we don’t know. 

Unfortunately the same can not be said for families of children with mental disorders. Parents often find themselves confused, alone, and ashamed. 

There is regrettably still a lot of guilt, shame, and unsolicited advice surrounding mental disorders. This is in part due to ignorance in our society when it comes to the brain, and it’s diseases: The brain has been called the “last frontier of the human body” because there is still a lot that we don’t know.

This challenge came and knocked on my door when our youngest son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years ago. I was busy studying about the brain and working in the field of mental disorders, and my husband and I were well aware of mental illness on both sides of our families, yet, we couldn’t believe it. Not our son, not bipolar! I wanted there to be another explanation; something spiritual or something in our parenting style that needed tweaking. I didn’t want to tell people about it, and when I finally did, I over-explained and over-shared, all to try and shield myself from their anticipated judgment or rejection. 

I am a mental health professional and an advocate for people who struggle with mental illness. but in this case, I was first of all a parent, and I was desperate for an explanation. I  questioned my way of parenting, blamed my spouse for too little involvement, blamed myself for too much, and wrecked my brain trying to remember if there was some trauma or abuse. Did I take some medication that I should not have during pregnancy? Was it the flight over to America? Was it the culture shock that I went through? 

A million questions rolled around in my head. I stopped trusting my gut and started listening to all the voices around me, assuring me that their kids went through the same things, that it was just hormones, that it was middle school, that he just needed more discipline, better food, more exercise, more sleep, or less computer time. In the end, these things may have contributed, or they may not have, we don’t know. All I knew was that something was wrong with my kid and it was not just “a normal part of growing up.”

Margaret Puckette writes in her book Raising Troubled Kids: A Guide Book for Raising Children With Mental Illness or an Emotional Disorder “I was blamed instead of supported, my child was falsely accused of drug use, I was accused of being a weak parent, and I endured lots of unwanted and inappropriate advice. These messages came from close friends, family members, clergy, doctors, teachers, even mental health professionals! The blame and judgment came from so many directions that it was hard to believe they weren’t true.”

 

It can seem like a never-ending nightmare. Everything takes so long, the diagnosis, the trial and error period to find the right medication, the wait for things to change, the endless trips to the doctor, psychiatrist, behavioral specialist, counselor, and nutritionist. Do not forget the trips to the pharmacy, the meetings with school counselors, psychologists, and teachers. I found the most support from my son’s public high school, but even then, the process was painstakingly slow, and the red tape was endless. My heart especially goes out to single parents who try to survive an ordeal like this; it is just so hard. Parents become isolated, overwhelmed, and run out of patience and energy. Food is my vice, so I gained a lot of weight through it all, while other parents turn to different ways to numb the pain that can be even more destructive. 

 

So I am reaching out to parents who are facing this huge challenge. I want to be the person that looks you in the eye and say “I know, it is unbelievably hard!” I also want to be the one who encourages you to do some self-care, go on dates, go dancing, and be gentle with yourself because you came through a lot. Whatever you do, do not blame yourself, that gets you nowhere and just adds insult to injury. I want to tell you that it may take a long time, but this season too will pass.

 

Reach out to friends, your spiritual community, family, co-workers, and other parents. You will find that you are not alone, there are others who know your pain. 

Another one of my kiddos was recently diagnosed with a mental disorder. I went again through the self-doubts, the denial, the struggle to find my footing, but this time I came around faster. This time I was going to ask for help, I was going to trust my mom-gut, and I was going to have many girls nights out so I do not lose myself somewhere in the process. 

 

Please join my groups for parents of children with mental disorders in Beaverton, OR. You will find NO judgment, just other parents who walked a mile in your shoes, and who understand all too well that  mental disorders can take a toll on the whole family.

 

Click here to find out more about support groups for parents of children with mental disorders.

 

 

PARENTING KIDS WITH BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS OR MENTAL DISORDERS CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT
This challenge came and knocked on my door when our youngest son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years ago. I was busy studying about the brain and working in the field of mental disorders, and my husband and I were well aware of mental illness on both sides of our families, yet, we couldn’t believe it. Not our son, not bipolar! I wanted there to be another explanation; something spiritual or something in our parenting style that needed tweaking. I didn’t want to tell people about it, and when I finally did, I over-explained and over-shared, all to try and shield myself from their anticipated judgment or rejection. 

I am a mental health professional and an advocate for people who struggle with mental illness. but in this case, I was first of all a parent, and I was desperate for an explanation. I  questioned my way of parenting, blamed my spouse for too little involvement, blamed myself for too much, and wrecked my brain trying to remember if there was some trauma or abuse. Did I take some medication that I should not have during pregnancy? Was it the flight over to America? Was it the culture shock that I went through? 

A million questions rolled around in my head. I stopped trusting my gut and started listening to all the voices around me, assuring me that their kids went through the same things, that it was just hormones, that it was middle school, that he just needed more discipline, better food, more exercise, more sleep, or less computer time. In the end, these things may have contributed, or they may not have, we don’t know. All I knew was that something was wrong with my kid and it was not just “a normal part of growing up.”

PARENTS FEEL GUILTY AND ASHAMED

Margaret Puckette writes in her book Raising Troubled Kids: A Guide Book for Raising Children With Mental Illness or an Emotional Disorder “I was blamed instead of supported, my child was falsely accused of drug use, I was accused of being a weak parent, and I endured lots of unwanted and inappropriate advice. These messages came from close friends, family members, clergy, doctors, teachers, even mental health professionals! The blame and judgment came from so many directions that it was hard to believe they weren’t true.”

BOTTOM LINE: IT’S A LONG JOURNEY AND PARENTS NEED HELP

 

It can seem like a never-ending nightmare. Everything takes so long, the diagnosis, the trial and error period to find the right medication, the wait for things to change, the endless trips to the doctor, psychiatrist, behavioral specialist, counselor, and nutritionist. Do not forget the trips to the pharmacy, the meetings with school counselors, psychologists, and teachers. I found the most support from my son’s public high school, but even then, the process was painstakingly slow, and the red tape was endless. My heart especially goes out to single parents who try to survive an ordeal like this; it is just so hard. Parents become isolated, overwhelmed, and run out of patience and energy. Food is my vice, so I gained a lot of weight through it all, while other parents turn to different ways to numb the pain that can be even more destructive. 

ARE YOU PARENTING A CHILD WITH CHALLENGES?

So I am reaching out to parents who are facing this huge challenge. I want to be the person that looks you in the eye and say “I know, it is unbelievably hard!” I also want to be the one who encourages you to do some self-care, go on dates, go dancing, and be gentle with yourself because you came through a lot. Whatever you do, do not blame yourself, that gets you nowhere and just adds insult to injury. I want to tell you that it may take a long time, but this season too will pass. Reach out to friends, your spiritual community, family, co-workers, and other parents. You will find that you are not alone, there are others who know your pain. 

Another one of my kiddos was recently diagnosed with a mental disorder. I went again through the self-doubts, the denial, the struggle to find my footing, but this time I came around faster. This time I was going to ask for help, I was going to trust my mom-gut, and I was going to have many girls nights out so I do not lose myself somewhere in the process. 

 

CHECK OUT OUR GROUPS FOR PARENTS

Please join my groups for parents of children with mental disorders in Beaverton, OR. What do you have to lose? You will find NO judgment, just other parents who walked a mile in your shoes, and who understand all too well that  mental disorders can take a toll on the whole family. Click here to find out more about support groups for parents of children with mental disorders.

COUNSELING FOR INDIVIDUALS, COUPLES, PARENTS, OR FAMILIES

So maybe the group thing is not your style, but you know that you need to talk to someone. I would be honored to do individual counseling with any parent or caregiver. I also offer COUPLES counseling if you and your spouse would like to come together and also work on your relationship. Another option may be FAMILY COUNSELING for the whole family. This will be longer session (90 minutes) but it can be powerful and bring healing to a whole family. 
PLEASE CONTACT HELEEN TODAY AT 503-914-2749. Take a look at the Counseling Services we offer.
 

 

Contact Heleen to schedule an appointment at our Beaverton office or ONLINE.

Call: (503) 914-2749

Schedule on our website: www.lifesolutions.io

Life Solutions Counseling

4145 SW Watson Ave Suite 350 Beaverton, OR 97005

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2 thoughts on “Parenting Kids with Challenges: Where are the casseroles?

  1. Hi Heleen,
    This is such a beautifully written testimonial. I can relate to all of it. Thank you for sharing as I know it it helps us to feel less afraid of being excluded & judged & it gives a recognition or a name to what we’ve been going through: “illness”. We’ve tried the remedies, the “bandaids” that sometimes covered the bleeding briefly & other times the bandaids prevented the wound from healing. Just covered it up to make it appear nicer… thank you for sharing & for helping others

Leave a Comment


2 thoughts on “Parenting Kids with Challenges: Where are the casseroles?

  1. Hi Heleen,
    This is such a beautifully written testimonial. I can relate to all of it. Thank you for sharing as I know it it helps us to feel less afraid of being excluded & judged & it gives a recognition or a name to what we’ve been going through: “illness”. We’ve tried the remedies, the “bandaids” that sometimes covered the bleeding briefly & other times the bandaids prevented the wound from healing. Just covered it up to make it appear nicer… thank you for sharing & for helping others

Leave a Comment