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Siblings of Children with Mental Illness

Siblings of Children with Mental Illness

Raising siblings of children with mental illness is challenging. My husband and I have spent so much energy on my 17-year-old son Bob who lives with bipolar disorder and social anxiety, his younger sister, Hannah, is sometimes neglected. Hannah, the sibling of a child with mental illness, has witnessed multiple crises in our family. She has been the trigger or target of her brother’s outbursts. It is no wonder she is struggling with mental health issues of her own.

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Small Steps Helpful When Siblings Compete With Mentally Ill Child for Parents’ Attention

Small Steps Helpful When Siblings Compete With Mentally Ill Child for Parents’ Attention

Years ago, as a Girl Scout, I went camping at a theme park set in the “old west.” One of the attractions was a candy store that made fresh saltwater taffy. We got to watch as a huge batch of taffy was pulled…this way, that way, pulled and pulled and stretched and pulled.

Lately, I feel a lot like that taffy.

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Psychiatric Illness May Drive a Wedge Between Family Members

Psychiatric Illness May Drive a Wedge Between Family Members

When I picked up Bob from a week-long visit with his father last weekend, I knew it was going to be a tough day. It always is when he comes back from these visits. I never know what exactly to expect, just that conflict will arise.

This time, the conflict was within me.

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Child’s Mental Illness Can Make Your Marriage Sick, Too

Child’s Mental Illness Can Make Your Marriage Sick, Too

I’ve noticed a definite tone to my posts lately. No longer optimistic, rarely showcasing the dry humor I’m infamous for, and mostly just a big written invitation to my Pity Party. When I started this blog, I’d hoped to make it a mix between informative, generalized posts and the more personal, happened-to-me stories. Lately, however, the personal, happening-to-me (us) are weighing on my mind, heavily enough to render me interested in little else.

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Mentally Ill Child and Siblings Can Spread a Parent Thin

Mentally Ill Child and Siblings Can Spread a Parent Thin

“You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but none of the people all of the time.” I wonder if the originator of this phrase had a child like Bob?

No parent wants their children to grow up and accuse them of paying more or less attention to them than one (or more) of their siblings. But if one of your children has a psychiatric illness, the scenario is more likely to become reality than not.

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Odd Man Out–Mental Illness and Family Dynamics

Odd Man Out–Mental Illness and Family Dynamics

Bob came home last night after spending a week at his father’s house.

There were no ticker-tape parades or confetti. We usually try to keep his returns low-key because of his problems with transitions, but last night felt different, because I’m not sure any of us were too excited about his homecoming.

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Family Survival Roles

Family Survival Roles

You may have heard of the five “survival roles” often taken on by alcoholic families–Chief Enabler, Hero, Scapegoat, Lost Child, and Mascot. Sharon Wegsheider-Cruse is credited with identifying these roles within families living with chemical dependency in 1976. I learned these roles in high school when I attended a meeting for children of alcoholics to support a friend. Imagine my confusion when, in the course of the meeting, I began to recognize at least a few of the characters within my own family, even though none of us were chemically dependent. (The survival roles have since been applied to the broader scope of “dysfunctional” families.)

A family is a single, cohesive unit (no matter how loudly some members may protest to the contrary). When part of the family doesn’t function as it should, the other parts adapt in an effort to retain or regain that function as a unit. Every member contributes in some way. Unfortunately, even the youngest members of a family take on roles when the need is sensed.

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Lesser Crimes of Siblings Often Too Easy to Ignore

Lesser Crimes of Siblings Often Too Easy to Ignore

It has come to our attention recently that our child is kind of a brat.

I’m not talking about Bob–I’m talking about his younger brother, “Two.” It seems we pay such close attention to Bob (particularly this time of year), we’ve completely failed to notice the other little monster we’re creating.

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Blended Families and Children with Mental Illness (1 of 2)

Blended Families and Children with Mental Illness (1 of 2)

One of the things I have tried hardest to avoid is having a house divided. Regardless of the differences in our DNA, I wanted our family to function as one cohesive unit. But lately, despite my best efforts, one of the sheep is doing his best to separate himself from the flock. And it’s driving me nuts.

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Love Me, Love My Kid: Stepfamilies and Mentally Ill Children (Part 2 of 2)

Love Me, Love My Kid: Stepfamilies and Mentally Ill Children (Part 2 of 2)

As with any blended family, adding children adds potential for conflict. Babies and toddlers are needy and demanding—so is Bob, my son with a psychiatric illness. Finding balance in managing the needs of all family members can be problematic.

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