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What should a parent do to protect their child(ren) from the effects of their mental health condition?

(11 Posts)
GreenStripyTowel Sat 13-Jan-18 06:48:01

If a parent has, say, bi-polar, which affects them by making them need to regularly sleep in the daytime (when they're well just nap - when they're ill sleep a lot more during daylight), makes them irritable, paranoid, affects their memory, makes them suicidal at times.

Obviously not all the effects are all the time, they vary according to the cycle.

What is the parents responsibility in terms of protecting their children from being affected by the effects of their condition, and how should/could they do this?


confusedhelpme Sat 13-Jan-18 07:02:40

If the parent is asleep then someone else to look after the children

justpoppy Sat 13-Jan-18 07:20:29

Interesting as this is me! My ds is 12 and very mature. I’ve recently had a 6 week inpatient stay and was totally honest with him (in an age appropriate need to know way) and why I was there, talked to him about my meds, my symptoms. He seemed to take it all in his stride (although i’d Never take that for granted that if he seemed find he was - i’m Always looking out for him). I can get away with sleeping during the day at the weekends as that’s his Xbox time - he comes up to “check” on me when he’s hungry. We’ve always had a very close relationship though. I’m a single parent and his dad is not around. I can’t lie to him and this direct approach works for us.

GreenStripyTowel Sat 13-Jan-18 07:33:43

Thank you for responding. I'm asking because I want to understand what are reasonable expectations of someone with this condition. If it's relevant children are under 6.

Nix32 Sat 13-Jan-18 07:59:46

Is there another adult/parent in the house while you're asleep? I wouldn't be comfortable with a 6 year old being unaccompanied while the only adult in the house is asleep.

makeitpink Sat 13-Jan-18 08:03:31

I think your responsibilities are to take your medication to manage symptoms as much as possible and to ensure that there is another adult available if required. I would also make sure that the children know where the phone is and who they should call in an emergency/if they are worried. I have no problem with (any) parents sleeping in the day as long as kids are safe. I have often napped whilst kids watch a film etc.

Nix32 Sat 13-Jan-18 08:08:10

Re. the irritability and the paranoia - the children absolutely need protecting from them. They need to know that they are not the cause of the irritation, and they need for it not to be taken out on them.

If they know about the paranoia, they are likely to take on those fears - this needs to be hidden from them, they need to not hear those types of conversations.

They need to know - in very simple, child appropriate language - that their parent is unwell, but that it is not their fault or their responsibility.

This will sound harsh, but the parents need for sleep does not trump the children's need to be parented and protected.

GreenStripyTowel Sat 13-Jan-18 12:53:51

Thank you for the replies. It is my exp who has the condition, and at some point this year contact between him and the dc will move from contact centre into the community.

When we were together I was the other adult so that he wasn't sleeping while in sole charge, and I protected the dc as much as possible from the paranoia and irritability.

I do not have a lot of confidence in his ability to recognise and take appropriate action when he starts to get ill (from experience), and I do not know what I should be expecting from him, nor how to protect the dc from a distance? Any ideas would be v welcome.

Nix32 Sun 14-Jan-18 11:55:16

I think I would begin with contact being for a very short period of time - couple of hours? - and plan for it to be somewhere public/active, so that children are being kept busy (limits the risk of him being irritable) and exp doesn't have the opportunity to nap. Park/soft play/swimming/cinema? I know that makes it seem as if he gets the fun stuff, but at least the children would be protected from the things you've described. I've been where you are, except we're still together, so I can still do the protecting in person.

GreenStripyTowel Sun 14-Jan-18 18:46:41

Thank you nix, the plan will be to progress things slowly, but eventually he wants them to come and stay overnight, so I guess I'm trying to plan ahead and not be blindsided later down the line.

A solicitor I spoke to seemed to be of the opinion that the children could say if anything neglectful or worrying went on - but I think that's too much to put on them.

He has seen them once so far out of the contact centre (supervised by his family), and he was very upset that I insisted on written medical confirmation that he was complying with his meds and attending appointments before agreeing to it. He refused to give it for ages and complained at length about what an invasion of privacy it was.

My view was that it was the only way I could see if he was stable (or appearing so) to assess the risk for the dc from afar. I am very low contact with him (dc related only) and don't live near or know any of his friends.

But I don't know what is reasonable to expect to know regarding his mental health. (I didn't ask to know what treatment he is receiving - just that he is doing what his docs think he needs to. I don't think that's invasive? I don't really see that I have a choice.)

Nix32 Sun 14-Jan-18 19:30:49

I don't agree with the solicitor either. The behaviour they might witness could be very subtle - enough to upset them or make them uncomfortable, but not obvious enough for them to be able to explain it.

I don't think what you're asking is intrusive - it's in the best interests of the children. I think you need to hang on to that thought and reiterate it whenever he complains. If he doesn't want what's best for them, he can't see them. If he's well he should be able to recognise that, and if he can't, maybe he's not well enough to see them.

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