Children of parents with a chronic medical illness are at an increased risk for developing health-related and social-emotional problems, such as somatic complaints, social isolation, and excessive concern to acquire an illness themselves. More evidence also suggests that these children may show problems of anxiety and depressed mood and even aggressive and rule-breaking behavior. They may also display elevated stress levels.
Hence, parents and children need to make adjustments in handling chronic illness and learn to live in balance.
What is chronic illness?
A chronic disease is a disease lasting for 3 months or more and generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured completely by medication. The leading chronic diseases include cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, arthritis, cancers, diabetes, epilepsy, obesity, mental health and oral health problems.
In United States new research shows that 18% of newly diagnosed cancer patients are parents to children, this means that about 2.85 million children live with a parent who is suffering with cancer and one-third are teens. Teens really need good communication, information, support and hope to deal with this situation.
The following are suggestions on how to cope when teens are having parents with chronic illness:
- You are not alone.
It is good to talk with other people and families who face similar situations and knowing how they deal with it.
- You need information about your parent’s illness
This is very important to get to know on what actually your parents are facing, the cause of the illness, the treatments, the cure, the prevention and the risks of getting the illness. Find nearest support group in your community to increase your awareness about the illness.
- You need to support and acknowledge about your parent’s difficulties
Communicate openly and talking about the illness with your parents is important in supporting your parents and will also lessen stressful situation in the near future.
- You are not the cause of the illness
Don’t feel guilty and blame yourself as the cause of your parent’s illness. Physical and mental illness has their own cause not you.
- Your parents still loves you
Depending on the severity of your parents illness, it will affect your parents role in your family but it will never affect their loves and cares to you.
- Take your time to be with friends
You should take care of your physical and emotional health too. Take your time to be with your friends and have positive support from them.
- Seek support to deal with stigma from friends and relatives
Family and friends may make unwelcome comments on your parent’s illness. You and your family can be counseled by talking openly about your parents illness and its implications or effects to your family. This helps reduce the stigma and encourages healthy communication.
- Share your concern with trusted adults and close friends
You can decide on the pros and cons of talking about your family problems with trustworthy adults or friends and get full support from them.
- Empowerment in supporting your parents
You can discuss with your parents or other family members about ways that you can help them in easing their suffering such as eating together, cleaning their room and walking to the park together.
- Find hope in managing your parents illness
It is good to know that what your parents are suffering is treatable and there is always effective treatment available.
- Reaching Out to Children of Parents With Mental Illness?By Michelle D. Sherman, PhD?Social Work Today?Vol. 7 No. 5 P. 26
|Last Reviewed||:||06 September 2017|
|Writer||:||Dr. Wan Fadhillah Bt. Wan Ismail|
|Accreditor||:||Datin Dr. Zil Falillah Bt. Haji Mohd Said|