As a teenager, I made everything tougher than it needed to be.
I argued when I was asked to do chores. I was miserable just to prove a point. I wouldn’t listen to good advice.
I was also a teenager with mental illness.
This changes the dynamic between parent and child in a big way—besides the normal parent-child arguments, now you fight about medications, psychiatrist visits, and counseling sessions.
Parents of children that have mental illness may also deal with problems like substance abuse, promiscuous sex, erratic and dangerous behavior, and even suicidal behavior.
Even the most supportive parent wonders where to turn for help.
Sometimes, there aren’t enough local resources available, or parents don’t even know where to begin to go and get them.
Many parents that I’ve talked to say that at least when their child is troubled, they still live under their roof. They feel, at least, like they have some sort of control over the situation.
But when your child grows up and moves out, how do you deal with the fear, anxiety, frustration, and other emotions that come with that lack of control?
I read a great article by Victoria Maxwell, a writer that lives with bipolar disorder. One day, she decided to discuss being an adult child with mental illness with her father.
Some of their wisdom includes the following:
Here are some educational and support resources for parents with children with mental illness:
National Alliance on Mental Illness—grassroots organization with branches across the US
Canadian Mental Health Association—national mental health organization with branches across Canada
Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance—a great interactive organization with a great website. Branches across the US.
Mental Health America—find a support group
Mood Disorders Society of Canada—mental health mood disorder organization
The Balanced Mind Foundation—for parents of children with mood disorders
Other organizations that might be helpful for support:
1-800-273-TALK (Suicide Prevention and Support Hotline)
Please comment on your experience either as a parent of a child with mental illness or as an adult child with mental illness. How was your relationship with your parent or child? What do you wish you could have done differently? How do you feel now that your child has moved out?
Maxwell, V. (2012, February 28). Families falling apart: when adult children with mental illness don’t want help. Psychology Today, Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/crazy-life/201202/families-falling-apart-when-adult-children-mental-illness-dont-want-help
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Last reviewed: 16 May 2013