Parenting Lessons: Be the Parent You'd Want

November 5, 2013 Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

Of all of the lessons I've realized as a parent of a child with mental illness, the biggest parenting lesson has been that kids need all of the encouragement they can get. Bob is the product of an unplanned pregnancy, but he has been my best accomplishment. Why? Because I've been able to be the parent that I needed as a child.

[caption id="attachment_2306" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Feeling Joy"][/caption]


Being a single mother of a child with mental illness is challenging, but it isn't impossible and without joy. I feel joy when I think of Bob's desire to be the next Albert Einstein and change the world with his scientific abilities. I feel pride when I see him beaming about helping a younger child with homework. And I'm constantly amazed at his sweetness and compassion.I know that his personality is his own, but I also know that he is a product of my parenting.

A Parent's Love

This parenting lesson comes from my own childhood experience. My parents were good providers and educators and I love them. They did their best. But, I also needed emotional support, which was hard for both of them. It isn't hard for me. I love Bob and have no qualms about showing him everyday.

In fact, a few years ago, my father asked me about it. He asked why I told Bob everyday that I loved him. I stopped for a second, unsure about how to respond because I didn't want to offend my father, but also wanted to speak from my heart.

Being Loving and Honest

I told my father that Bob needs to hear it everyday and know how wonderful he is. My father asked me why. I told him simply that I needed to hear it as well. I explained that words are so very important to a child's mental health. My father was a bit quiet after that, which I took as a good sign. It meant that he was thinking about my words and his own parenting lessons

From my father's perspective, I imagine that being the parent you wanted as a child means you support your child financially. It was the parenting lesson he learned as a child. My parenting lesson went a step further to include the positive emotional life of a child.

At the end of the day, only you can decide how best to parent your child with mental illness. If you keep in mind the kind of parent you'd want to have, you will remind yourself of what it is like to be a child. And you'll be the parent you'd want to give your child.

photo credit: Fadzly @ Shutterhack via photopin cc

APA Reference
Zalamar, H. (2013, November 5). Parenting Lessons: Be the Parent You'd Want, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

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