The birth of a child is a major event, which hugely affects the family dynamics. Very often it is associated with joy, aspirations, hopes and dreams. Nonetheless, parenting is a demanding job and it can get even more so in case of a child who is either born with or suffered from a disability or a psychopathology.
Raising a child with any psychopathology can add to a significant amount of stress when it comes to parenting. This stress can further manifest itself into psychopathologies in parents such as anxiety and depression. We most often ignore or feel pity for parents who are undergoing such circumstances rather than discussing coping mechanisms, showing support and empathy.
Therefore, today we discuss the toll that stress, anxiety and depression can take on these parents as well as the coping mechanism that can be taken up.
So many studies have shown significant psychological distress that is associated with parenting of children who suffer from any kind of disability. There can be no comparison made among children who are differently abled, mentally or physically and having to take care of a child is already in itself a very demanding. However, a child with a mental illness can be a bit of an extra challenge sometimes.
Depression and anxiety are the most prevalent causes among parents of children who are differently abled and hence anxiety and depression have been studied the most by various authors however, other areas of psychopathology have not been adequately explored. Moreover, the role of specific coping mechanisms and the correlation it has with psychopathology hasn’t been explored too much by researchers as well. The lack of research on these areas and the fact that it is not so openly discussed speaks volumes about how we still consider these topics a big taboo.
We need specific days to celebrate the differences that these children have and other than that we are doing nothing. There is such a lack of awareness and support programs that need to be developed for such children, but most importantly for their parents as well. These grey areas are imperative to study as they will impact the overall management of such cases and give us better coping mechanisms for both; the children and the parents.
It is necessary to establish that chronic illness in children affect the psychological health and mental wellbeing of the parents. Active coping strategies if inculcated may improve the ability to deal with the illness of the child without themselves becoming affected by any psychological ailment.
The Transactional Process of Coping
Coping has always been a transactional process and especially when it comes to coping with stressors. The whole process is like a flow of events between a frequently changing environment and the individual’s reaction as well as emotional state. Hence, the shift in emotions reflects changes in the meaning that one assigns to the relationship which means that it decides the nature of the relationship. Poor coping mechanisms mean poor relationship and vice versa.
How Does Coping Actually Work
The very basic justification for studying the mechanisms of coping is the notion that, when people are faced with hardship and adversity, the way they react to and deal with the challenges it brings along can make a substantial amount of difference to their subsequent development.
If they are overwhelmed, they can become more susceptible to consequent psychological problems and disorder. However, if they rise to the challenge, they can become strengthened, toughened and more resilient to future difficulties.
It is very similar to the concept of host resistance in biology when it comes to infections. The concept of coping refers not to the assets and liabilities that people bring to their dealings with hardship but instead to how people actually interact with the real setbacks, and difficulties they encounter on a daily basis.
There are numerous ways in which one can cope with what life has offered in this case, child psychopathology. Some of which are as follows:
Never be afraid to seek help:
The number one mistake parents often tend to do is hide what they are going through because of various reasons. One of these is being ashamed of their situation. Trust in the process and know that there will always be people who are interested in helping you out without a catch.
Always remind yourself that it is not a mistake and you are not being punished:
As someone who observes a situation that is unlike others parents can also end up blaming themselves for it. Just remember, that it wasn’t something that could be controlled and it’s not your mistake. It happened as a naturally occurring phenomena just like most other things in nature and can happen to anyone. So it’s not a punishment.
Rumination and reflection:
Reflect on what you wish to do and how you wish to cope with your child’s condition. Always give yourself feedback by thinking how would you like to be treated or taken care of and what would you have wanted if you were going through a similar experience.
Confront yourself and stop trying to escape:
Many parents flee from the responsibility that comes with a child who needs a little extra care. This is your child, be responsible in bringing them up just like you would have been responsible if the child’s circumstances were favorable.
Find support groups or other people in a similar situation to look for novel coping strategies. Speak to them and pour your hearts out to them so you can better reflect on what needs to be changed or what should remain the same.
Lastly, never be shy of asking for help for yourself and for the purpose of your personal mental health as well. It can get tiring and it can get frustrating and you do not have to be uptight or perfect all the time. You are a parent, and you’re allowed to break down but just don’t stay there always get back up.