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Our Mental Health Blogs

Give Balance to Siblings of a Child with Mental Illness

Give Balance to Siblings of a Child with Mental Illness

Siblings of a child with mental illness can get lost in the fray, and that's a top worry for parents. Here's what can happen and tips to help balance it out.Siblings of a child with mental illness don’t have it easy. Managing children is a balancing act. Throw in mental illness, and that balance disappears. Sadly, this doesn’t usually favor the child without the mental illness. I have many fears for my younger daughter who often lives in the shadow of her brother’s behavior disorder. I’m betting many parents like me have the same fears for the siblings of a child with mental illness.

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Fostering Independence in Your Child with Mental Illness

Fostering Independence in Your Child with Mental Illness

It is difficult to foster independence when your child has a mental illness. Helicoptering isn't useful, but you must be present--in some way--all the time.The parenting questions I’ve been wrestling with recently are how much independence to allow my son with mental illness and how do I foster independence for him. Should I be a “helicopter mom” or a “free-range parent”? Sadly, I don’t have a pilot’s license, and my children aren’t livestock, so I have no idea. I can tell you, though, that the question of independence is an entirely different one for my daughter who doesn’t have a mental illness than it is for my son who does (Siblings of Children with Mental Illness). How do I foster independence in my child with mental illness?

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Siblings of Children with Mental Illness

Siblings of Children with Mental Illness

Are the siblings of your child with mental illness suffering because of your family's situation? Find out to deal with the sister of a mentally ill son.

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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Siblings Must Compete With Mentally Ill Child for Attention

Siblings Must Compete With Mentally Ill Child for Attention

I’m not sure when it happened, but The Toddler has determined “Mom Time” is a good thing. Good enough to be fought for. Begged, borrowed, and stolen for. Bob, not to be outdone in this attention-seeking contest, has upped the ante (however unintentionally). The end result? One Mom, looking like taffy, stretched and pulled, pulled and stretched, ready to snap and feeling pretty similar.

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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

My child's mental illness stresses my marriage too. My son's step-father didn't used to feel like a step-dad. The tension is unbearable. Did this happen to you?

I’ve receive innumerable comments from readers about how their child’s psychiatric illness has taken a toll on their marriages. I’d be lying if I said my husband and I are the exception. The tension in our house has been thick enough to spread on a bagel, and over the course of this year, it’s gotten progressively worse.

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Mentally Ill Child and Siblings Can Spread a Parent Thin

Mentally Ill Child and Siblings Can Spread a Parent Thin

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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