As parents of children with mental illness, we witness extremely bad behavior. We know it is not okay to be disrespectful or put holes in walls. Yet, traditional discipline methods don't work. We become desperate for effective parenting tools for our kids (The Challenge of Difficult Children Homepage). The key is to understand what is driving the bad behavior. Is it the kid or the mental illness?
Life with Bob
I worry my son will end up in jail. This is ironic because my son is a rigid rule follower. He attends a small college prep high school and plays basketball. He's a good kid. But, he's a good kid with a serious mental illness.
School refusal is the most arduous test I've encountered while parenting my mentally ill son. Middle school is difficult for most adolescents. Seventh grade was the worst year for me and my son Bob. That is the year he refused to go to school.
My child with mental illness stopped taking his psychiatric medication without telling me. Yeah, I spit 'em out. I flushed 'em in the toilet and ran 'em down the garbage disposal. I slid 'em into my pockets and held 'em under my tongue. Why? Because they make me feel normal and I hate feeling normal! I know medicine refusal is common for those living with mental illness. A chapter is devoted to the topic in every book. I should not have been surprised.
Losing a child is a parent's biggest fear. Mine is to lose my child to suicide. My son, Bob, lives with mental illness and has experienced suicidal ideation. He was hospitalized at age 15 when his suicidal thoughts were too strong to battle on his own. When I heard of Robin Williams' death, I had mixed emotions. I felt terrified because the suicide statistics for teens are dire. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 15-23. Roughly 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness.
"But he doesn't look sick," my daughter said. She was right. On the outside, Bob looked like any other middle school child. What his sister and the rest of the world didn't know was that Bob had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. His psychiatrist suggested we keep Bob home from school and wrote a note stating Bob was a threat to himself and others. Now I had to explain this to Bob, his sister and the rest of the world.
The moment my 12-year-old son ran out the front door, I locked it. The temperature that evening was 17 degrees. Bob was wearing basketball shorts, a tank top and no shoes. Earlier he was playing with knives and making threats. My mind struggled as he banged on the door begging me to let him in. Finally, I unlocked the back door to the basement and told him to go around the house. He slept downstairs (behind a locked door) while my family slept safely upstairs. The next day Bob was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Hello, my name is Christina Halli. I am excited to join HealthyPlace writing Life with Bob. I can tell you parenting a child with mental illness is tough, one of the hardest things I have done.
Hiya readers. Moving can be a challenge. It can stress you out. It is hard to leave something behind and scary to face a different future. At some point, all of us - parents and children - go through this. For kids, it can be moving on from one grade to another, one classroom to another or even from one subject to another. For parents, it can be moving on from one job to another or from being a parent to parenting a child with mental illness. Transitions are hard, but they happen to all of us.
April is Stress Awareness Month according to Brownielocks.com. Stress is common to all people, but it is especially challenging for a child with mental illness. I know how stress affects me, but I can also tell when it affects Bob. Parenting a child with mental illness also means dealing with stress as a trigger instead of being a by-product. Here are some tips to help your child with mental illness.