Since moderating a Twitter chat for NAMI Massachusetts at the beginning of this year on Parenting with a Mental Illness, I have thrown myself into research and gathering of resources. It’s been a challenge to find what many people were asking for: scripts for age-appropriate discussions for your children. Almost everything I have found, tells you to visit your Doctor or therapist.
Thanks to brilliant tips and a strategy to follow from Nadine Nicholson on how to create a Collaborative Blog Series, I have decided to create a series on Parenting and Mental Illness – A Collaborative 4 Part Blog Series. A Quiet Strong Voice started as a 15 part Blog Series last year before I published it, and it touched the lives of thousands. My hope is that this series will too.
The Topics for Parenting and Mental Illness
1. Parenting with a Mental Illness
- How do I help my child understand my mental illness?
- What is an age appropriate discussion I can have with my child to educate them and help them understand?
- How much should I share?
- What do I do when I am unable to give my child the love and attention they need in my darkest times?
- Who can I reach out to for support?
These are just some of the questions, I am often asked. So who better to provide real life experience than the people who are courageously stepping through mental illness and doing the best they can. This post will feature people who have children aged between 0 – 18.
2. Co-Parenting with a Loved One who has a Mental Illness
- How can I support my loved one while still trying to keep our family as normal as possible?
- How do I deal with my own frustration with not knowing how to help?
- Where can I go to find out about the signs and symptoms of mental illness?
- Who can I turn to for support for myself?
- How can I help my kids to understand?
I am one of the rare few who have an incredibly supportive spouse. When I was hospitalized in the psychiatric ward in 2004, Neil was the rock and foundation of our family. Even through his own fears and frustration, he powered on, doing the best he could. This post will feature people who have supported a love one with mental illness while raising a family.
3. Parenting a Child with a Mental Illness
- My child has just been diagnosed with a mental illness what do I do?
- How can I best support my child through their mental illness?
- How do I help my child accept that they need professional help?
- Who can I trust to share this with?
- How do I get the support as a parent, that I need to help my child?
Thankfully I have not had to deal with this personally. My daughters are 12 and 9 years old. This post will feature people who are successfully helping and supporting their children through mental illness.
4. Being the Child of a Parent with Mental Illness
- How does my mental illness affect my children?
- How much should I share with them?
- Should I just keep it to myself and not tell them?
- What must they think when I am in my moods and unable to function?
- Who do they get the support they need from?
I have many people sharing with me how grateful they are for the work I do, that is helping others speak up and not be ashamed about their mental illness. I have heard some heartbreaking stories from adults who grew up with a parent with mental illness. This post will feature people who grew up with a parent with a mental illness.
Call for Guest Bloggers and Series Guidelines
If you are interested in being a guest blogger for this series following are the guidelines:
- Word count – 100 to 300 words.
- Above are the questions often asked, be sure to intertwine this into your article.
- Use real life examples, people connect with stories that are real – that they can relate to. You do not need to share the names of your children if you don’t wish to. If you notice, I never use my daughters names for privacy and boundary reasons.
- You can use links to books, resources or information that have helped you throughout your journey.
- Men and women are encouraged to submit their stories.
Please submit your article HERE by August 15, 2012. There will be editing support, please don’t NOT submit your story because you feel you are not worthy. You are worthy, and you deserve to be heard and accepted.
Thank you for creating the conversation and real life experience to share with others who may not know what to do or where to go. I am confident this will be an incredible series, that will provide many people across the world the resources, hope and tools they need.