Having a child diagnosed with a chronic illness is a terrible experience for any parent. But even though the diagnosis might seem hopeless, there are many ways to cope and still get joy from life. Here’s what to do.
Tip #1: Adapt
People often use the term “human nature” without really thinking about what it means. Usually, it’s utilized in the context of a situation where a person has been greedy or malicious. But it turns out that the only real constant in human affairs is the ability to adapt. Our species is expert at it.
Your family can make changes and adapt, too - it just requires a bit of patience. Although you might not be able to do all the things you once did, new opportunities will present themselves, and you’ll form new relationships too.
Tip #2: Grab A Mentor
When your child is diagnosed with a chronic disease, it can be heartbreaking. You can go through a whole host of emotions, including fear, upset and despair. To shield your child from the darker side of your experience, it’s a good idea to grab a mentor - someone who is willing to listen to your concerns and act as an emotional outlet.
Tip #3: Promote Self-Management
All parents want their children to grow up to be independent, self-sufficient people. The same should apply to children with chronic diseases. Although it is difficult, these children should be taught to manage their own conditions. For instance, in the case of diabetes, children need to be able to monitor their own blood sugar levels and administer their own insulin.
Tip #4: Get Help
In today’s world, there’s no need for parents to manage the care of children alone. There are plenty of people ready and willing to provide certified palliative care. Getting help can actually help foster healthy relationships with your children. When you’ve got support, you’re less likely to become overwhelmed and stressed out.
Tip #5: Listen To Your Child
Coping with someone you love who has a chronic disease is difficult. But it’s also a scary time for the afflicted, especially if they’re a child and having to deal with issues of mortality. As a parent, it’s your job to listen to your child. This will help you understand their needs, allowing you to manage their treatment more effectively.
Tip #6: Educate Yourself
For many chronic diseases, there isn’t a single, standard approach to care. There are many different options available to parents both for treating and potentially reversing their child’s condition.
Educating yourself also helps to make the experience less stressful. Knowing what the future holds can be a massive stress-reliever, allowing you to get prepared ahead of time. Some conditions, like motor neuron disease, are progressive while others, like some cancers, can be reversed and eliminated.
Educating your child about their condition is also important. Age-appropriate kids books have been written for a variety of different diseases. These books allow you to explain to your child on an emotional level how to deal with their condition.