Here is another beautiful and wise article written by Helen. This also appears on our website.
It’s not always easy to take care of ourselves to the level we need to. As we seek to overcome the problems that have plagued our lives, we sometimes lose sight of the basic things we should be doing for ourselves. Sometimes, we punish ourselves and push ourselves into a hole that can be difficult to get out of. While this is difficult at any time, it becomes extra challenging when we have others to take care of, specifically children. Our actions have a damaging effect on the young and impressionable who do not fully understand our conditions.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the simple steps you can take to minimize the impact on your children.
Hiding Our Coping Mechanisms
Trauma and other forms of abuse affect us in ways we can’t fully comprehend, and it’s no surprise that many of us turn to other solutions, such as alcohol and drugs, as a way to cope with what we’re living through. Naturally, these tendencies need to be dealt with properly in their due course, but problems aren’t fixed overnight. We’re going to have those long days and nights before things begin to get better. When you’re in the midst of these episodes, it’s important that you try your best to shield your child from any drug or alcohol abuse. Seeing a parent engage in behaviour they only primitively understand – and primitively understand to be bad – can have a long term, damaging effect on a child’s well being. As well experiencing anger and hurt, children who grow up in an alcoholic home are more likely to suffer academically and have behavioral problems.
While an individual can’t always control their desire to drink, they can control where and when they do it. Until you can get the help you need, it’s important to keep the consumption and the effects away from your children.
Take Care of the Basics
Children will notice pretty quickly if they’re not being fed properly, the dishes are piling up, and the house isn’t being taken care of. Even when you’re going through your worst episodes, it’s important to ensure the things your child expect to taken care of, are taken of. In the process, you’ll also be helping take care of yourself. Establishing good rhythms and routines, especially by doing things such as cooking and making sure the house is clean, can do wonders to improve your mood. Doing things such as making sure we shower and brush our own teeth is important in establishing a sense of routine, and this becomes even more important when we’re doing the same for our children. In the end, no matter how tough it is, remember that they need you to be strong. When you’ve broken through the other side, you’ll be proud of how well you performed during your low moments.
People have differing opinions over whether you should tell your children about any mental health trouble you may be having. However, there are a lot of benefits to including your children in the process. Of course, doing so depends on a number of factors, such as the age and maturity of your children, and how much you think they should know. As a general rule, it’s best not to overshare all your information. Simply letting them know that you’re suffering in a non obvious way will be enough to let them know what’s going on. If you present it in a calm, rational manner, you’ll also prepare them for a life of being sympathetic towards those who have experienced trauma or other issues. Better yet, you’ll give them a first hand lesson in how to overcome the problems in life. With those two on your side, you’ll be an inspiration.
The final point may be the easiest or the hardest to follow, depending on where you’re at. Your children need you to love them, and they need to love you too. They need to trust you. Even if it’s the worst day possible, do your best to make sure the person your children see is a loving mother or father. It’ll be the greatest gift you can give them in a time of darkness.