Being a parent is one of the most rewarding but also challenging roles a person can have in life. Undoubtedly, children bring happiness, unconditional love, and satisfaction. However, a parent’s path is often rocky, especially when it comes to caring for young people with psychological problems. We are going to talk about the challenges of being such a parent and what could be done in order to take care of theirs and their children’s happiness and well-being.

Research from 2017 addresses the most common difficulties faced by mothers and fathers of children with mental health problems. First is the feeling of helplessness or powerlessness, which is completely normal and understandable. Another challenge observed is dealing with the all too common unwanted opinions and advice from strangers. Also, anxieties about whether the medications prescribed to the youth are safe or effective and the daily work of convincing your child to take these medications can be a huge burden for a parent. Other difficulties may be the unpredictability of how and when an exacerbation of symptoms may occur; high stress levels; communication barriers that fuel frustration; feelings of anger and shame and many others.

Parents of children with mental problems have the same obligations as other parents: to support their children; helping them up when they have fallen and giving them unconditional love. But there are still some additional steps they can take to improve their conditions and those of their children. First and foremost, it is important for mothers and fathers to make sure that their children receive the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment. They also need to find a mental health professional they feel comfortable with and who they trust. It is essential that once an adequate diagnosis is made, parents give themselves time to understand what they are experiencing. It is normal for them to grieve the life they imagined their child would have and to feel a range of emotions such as anger, sadness, confusion, and frustration. The best way to make their child feel accepted and loved is by processing their own feelings. It’s good for parents to be active listeners, to be interested in how their children are feeling and doing, and to remind them that they are much more than their mental illness.

Quite often, parents are their own worst critics. When faced with unhappiness, it is easiest for them to lose confidence in their parenting abilities. But it’s important for them to know that, as with all parents, mistakes are almost always inevitable. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but the most important thing a parent can do is love, support and accept their child and remind themselves that they are never alone.

Debora Stoeva, project L.I.K.E. intern