I have had the pleasure of working with parents who have bravely journeyed the murky waters of raising a child with long standing mental health challenges.
Here are some helpful suggestions:
1.) Being able to focus on your own family and not compare your child to "so and so's child". It's so easy in this competitive world to rank how your child is doing against another child. When your child is behind academically or socially it's easy to start to feel envious of someone else's "perfect family" . This kind of thinking leads to much resentment and guilt. Every family has struggles but some struggles may not be as obvious.
2.) Being able appreciate the small victories and accomplishments. Maybe your anxious child was able to go to school today or make it through a whole day of school. They may be on a different timetable then their peers. Celebrate small victories. Explore with your child what helped make that day a great day.
3.) Being able to grieve through the developmental stages. There will be times when you see your child missing out on certain milestones. Whether it be that your child misses the prom because they are in a psychiatric hospital or they can't get their driver’s license because they are too anxious. It's important to be empathetic with your child during those times but be careful about projecting your feelings onto the child.
4.) Being able to be vulnerable and ask for support when you need it. It is a sign of being human if you need extra help especially with navigating daily challenges and mental health systems.
5.) Being able to take time for yourself and your family to not focus on the problems. Setting aside deliberate time to enjoy nature, be creative, play games.
If you find it hard to do the above mentioned, please don't beat yourself up but recognize the times when you did a little better then you did the day, week, month before.
If this strikes a cord with you, what other suggestions do you have for what has helped you keep a positive mindset?