Living with arthritis
can add extra difficulties and challenges to parenting. At times, all parents experience feelings of doubt, even more if you struggle with arthritis. Better preparation regarding the physical and emotional toll will minimize the negative impact, help with solving difficult issues
, and lead to more effective parenting. Follow these do's and don'ts.
Time Required: A lifetime.
- Do send the right message to yourself and your children. Arthritis can be properly managed and treated. It's still possible to be a good parent and have a strong parent/child bond.
- Don't give much value to unwarranted negative feelings. Be a positive and patient parent.
- Do realize that all families have difficulties to overcome and challenges to face. Not all problems are related to arthritis.
- Do educate yourself and teach your children about your disease. Children must develop a basic understanding of your illness to eliminate confusion and misperceptions.
- Don't isolate yourself. Do talk freely and openly about your disease. Be open to your children's questions. Help them overcome their feelings of helplessness.
- Don't have your children act like adults prematurely. Though they will inevitably grow up more quickly and act more responsibly, be realistic about what to expect of them according to their age. Let your children be children.
- Do respect your physical limitations. Pace yourself. Conserve your energy for what is most important.
- Don't neglect your own health. You must be considerate of your children's needs but not at the expense of your own needs.
- Don't try to be SuperMom or SuperDad. You can't do everything for everyone. It doesn't take super powers to be empowered. Rely on inner strength.
- Do not avoid asking for help when needed. Make use of assistive devices and adaptive equipment too.
- Do keep family activities simple but special. Be creative while looking for solutions. Look for new and better ways of doing things together.
- Do plan ahead and when possible pre-arrange activities and outings. Remain flexible in your plans. If your disease dictates a change in plans, don't sweat it. Make up for it another day or another way.
- Re-think your definition of a successful parent.
- Adapt and adjust your parenting plans and priorities to your new reality.
- Focus your efforts on what you can do -- not what you can no longer do.
- Nurture. Your children will observe and learn from your words and actions.
- Accentuate the positive. By example, your children will become more caring and compassionate towards others. Truly a gift from you to your children -- the capacity to care.
What You Need
- Proper treatment and management of your arthritis.
- Open and honest communication with your children.
- Acceptance of your own limitations.
- Acceptance of your reality.
- New and different ways of doing things.