Does Your Mental Health Affect Your Parenting?

Parents have the ultimate power to influence their child’s behavior, development, and growth. If one or more parent experiences some sort of mental illness, this can affect their parenting techniques, leading to a negative developmental impact on their children. 

Here are some facts to help you assess the amount of impact a parent’s mental state can have on a child:

  • Studies have concluded that children who have parents with mental illness are likely to develop social, emotional, and behavioral problems.
  • Children who experience neglect or abuse are very likely to show behavioral difficulties like emotional reactivity, anxiety, and poor problem-solving. 
  • Witnessing domestic abuse can make a child develop anxiety, depression, heart issues, and even obesity in adulthood. 

If you are an aware parent worrying about your mental health affecting your child, know that you can cope with your condition while being an amazing parent! 

By understanding how your mental health can affect your little one, learning what behaviors may be harmful to your kid, and building a strong support network for yourself, you can effectively care for your children and give them a happy childhood. 

How can I care for children while dealing with mental illness? 

Raising kids is not at all an easy job! In fact, studies have concluded that stay-at-home moms who stay with children all day are likely to produce more cortisol. 

So, if you are dealing with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, raising and taking care of kids might become a challenging task. But with the right support and guidance, you can become a good parent even if have your own bucket full. 

First things first, you need to take care of your own well-being if you wish to become a good parent. Here are some things you can do to reduce stress in your life and aid your mental health:

Look for support

Building a strong support network will help you keep your mental health in check while raising children. You should start by first admitting to one or two trusted people that you are not okay. You are not doing mentally well and you need people in your life whom you can ask for help whenever needed. 

Don’t wait until you are on the brink of a breakdown to ask for support. If you are spotting some warning signs in your behavior, tell your friends or family about it as soon as possible. One thing you can do is write down how you would possibly react in a crisis, so you could show it to your peers and ask them to spot the signs for you. 

Asking for support in your professional life is also very crucial when you are dealing with mental illness. So, don’t be afraid to talk it out with your employer! 

Prepare for a crisis 

One of the biggest concerns a parent with mental illness has is what will happen if they face a crisis. This crisis could be anything including you having a panic attack, experiencing a full-blown emotional outburst, or even going into psychiatric care. 

Therefore, you must prepare for a potential crisis to manage your parenting situation. 

Here are some things you can do to prepare for a crisis:

  • You can try contacting daycare services that can help you manage day-to-day activities in case of an emergency.
  • Make a list of helplines and listening services that can help you manage your situation 
  • Talk to your peers about your mental health. They can help you with a bunch of things including taking care of your children in your absence or advocating for your treatment. 

Care for yourself 

It can be tough to give yourself love, time, and attention when you have children. You are mostly focused on what your kids need which can make you self-negligent. But you should know that prioritizing yourself, doing what you love, and pampering your inner child are just as important and may help your mental condition. 

While there are countless things you can do to care for yourself, here are basic ideas to help you get started:

  • Find an outlet for self-expression. You can try doing things that you love and express your feelings through them. Reading, writing, sketching, painting, photography, etc. can help you embrace your inner self. 
  • Pamper yourself as much as you can. We understand that it can be hard to take time when you have children to attend to. But a soothing manicure, a haircut, or religiously following a skin-care routine won’t take much of your energy. 
  • Try to be fit–not for others but for yourself. You don’t have to do a full-fledged workout to set a fitness routine. Start with a fifteen-minute walk every day and take things ahead from there. 

How can I help my children? 

It is possible to give your child a happy, healthy, and nurturing home even if you are dealing with some mental illness. You just need to be firm in your boundaries, respect your children’s emotions, and listen to their needs to be a good parent. 

Here are some things you can do to help your children despite dealing with mental health issues:

  • Build a strong bond with your children based on trust. Avoid making false promises and assure them that their emotional and physical needs will be met. 
  • Keep an open communication with your children. There is no shame in letting them know that you are dealing with something. Talk to them often and try to be available for them. 
  • Build their self-esteem by providing them genuine praise, opportunities for appropriate independence, and a proper outlet for expressing self-doubt. 

Final Words: Parenting

If you are finding it difficult to manage your situation on your own, it is best to seek outside help and involve a professional. You can consult your local GP, authorities, voluntary mental health organizations, child care services, support groups, and local hospitals for support, guidance, and necessary help. 

You are not alone in this! The word perfect doesn’t exist in the book of parenting. So, try to be better every day, do your best, and leave things to fate. 

Learn more: How to Talk to Your Child About Mental Health.