All parents know it’s not fun taking care of the kids when you have the flu, or a severe head cold. You may ask your child to to bring you a Kleenex box when you are in bed, but it’s an occasional situation. However, having chronic pain has the potential for changing relationships within a family. Daniel Kantor, MD, president-elect of the Florida Society of Neurology believes chronic pain can reverse family dynamics. “The parent no longer feels like a person taking care of the child. Sometimes, it can feel like the child is taking care of the parent.”
The best way to combat the stress of parenting with chronic pain like migraine is to talk openly to your child about it. Kids want to hear two things from their parents… information and reassurance. If you have kids at various ages, it would help to talk to them individually as well in age-appropriate ways. Allowing your child to voice his or her concerns regarding your pain is crucial… they may have anxieties or concerns you may not be aware of. One boy thought his mom had more pain when he asked her to come to his soccer practice. You don’t want to leave your child with that thought… so letting them tell you their fears is important for both of you.
Giving your pain a name can begin the dialogue of explaining why you hurt. Reassuring them that you are not going to die from it will help ease your child’s anxiety. Letting them know that just because you have this condition does not mean they will get it can also help. One mom who suffers from fibromyalgia sees herself making bank “deposits” ahead of an important function she does not want to miss. The week of her daughter’s dance recital she took it extra easy, and asked the dance teacher if she could pick up her daughter early from the dress rehearsal the night before… making sure her daughter did not miss her part in the rehearsal. Mom was able to get a good night’s sleep that night, and felt better prepared for the recital the next evening, when she made a “withdrawl.”
Focusing on what you can do , rather than what you can’t can help keep things positive. While rock-climbing may not work, a walk in the park may be just fine. Asking for help is okay too… knowing other parents who might like to swap watching the kids can offer some relief, as well as allowing your child to have a friend over when you are feeling okay. The reality is that chronic pain may restrict some of the activities you would like to do with your child, and there are things other parents may be able to do that you can’t do. However, one mom summed up her parental challenges in this simple, and pragmatic way….. “Chronic pain does interfere with the kind of parent I’d like to be. There are things other parents can do that I can’t. But what she really wants from me is to be with me – and that I can do.” WebMD May, 2012