You're Parenting a Mentally Ill Child but You're Only Human

April 1, 2014 Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

You’re only human. As I watched one of my favorite television shows, Dancing with the Stars, I was reminded of this – I’m only human. The song, Human, written by Christina Perri & Martin Johnson, touched my heart from the first moment I heard it during a commercial for another one of my favorite shows, The Little Couple. It reminded me of so many things, most importantly, that we’re only human. Listening to the song on the show, I was brought to tears as I thought of so many things.

Battles with a Child with a Mental Illness

I recalled the battles I’ve faced, both as a person and as a parent. I thought of every single fight I’ve had for Bob. The homework battles, the medication battles or even the battles with myself to do what is best for my child with a mental illness. It hasn’t been an easy road. But, remembering that you’re only human can help. Each battle you face as a parent can leave you broken and tired. But, when you remind yourself that it isn’t about perfection, but doing your best, it makes the journey much easier.

The Victories from Bob's Diagnosis of ADHD

I also thought of everything good thing that has come out of Bob’s diagnosis with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When I finally realized that Bob’s condition had a name and that he wasn’t just “acting out.” Finally having an answer as to why Bob had such a difficult time at school. When you think of everything you’ve struggled to achieve for your child with mental illness, remember that you’re only human. You make mistakes along the way, but you also have victories to celebrate. Even the smallest ones, such as your child making good choices.

[caption id="attachment_2523" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The One Tip that Changes Everything"]It feels like you need to be perfect to parent a mentally ill child but you're only human - you can still be a good parent to a child with a mental illness.[/caption]

You're Only Human - An Inspiration

Human, reminded me that I’m willing to face whatever I need to, even the scariest people (aka my family) to defend, protect and fight for Bob. It reminded me of every scar I’ve earned over the years. It reminded me of how Bob, even before being born, inspired me to follow my dreams and do whatever it took to make them come true. You’re only human. Remember how you felt the first day your child came into your life. When that beautiful, wonderous being first stared at you, that moment of looking into Bob’s eyes cemented my desire to push myself farther than I ever thought possible. He inspired me.

You're the Parent of a Mentally Ill Child but You're Only Human

You’re only human. Remember that you aren’t perfect and you aren’t anything but human. You will make mistakes as you go through the process of parenting a child with a mental illness. But, it is your journey. You will struggle, you will have victories, you will be frustrated. You’re only human – it is bound to happen that tough times will come and go. But when you remember that you’re only human, you’ll remember all of the good times too. Be strong and continue to do what is right for your child with a mental illness. This is your journey.

photo credit: tom clearwood via photopin cc

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APA Reference
Zalamar, H. (2014, April 1). You're Parenting a Mentally Ill Child but You're Only Human, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Heiddi Zalamar, LMHC, MA

Katherine Dering
April, 8 2014 at 9:29 am

Parents siblings and/or children of people suffering from serious mental illness have a difficult task,, but at its core is the desire to do the right thing by our loved one. When the person with the illness is an adult, the issues compound. I try to remember the keys are to stay connected, stay informed on scientific advancements and treatment options, be vocal - let legislators know we need help, and remember that while we are waiting for a breakthrough or hoping for a genius to figure it all out, our loved one's life is going by, so try to make every day the best it can be.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 22 2014 at 12:38 am

Hi Katherine,
Thanks for sharing. I agree that it is about doing the right thing for our loved one. I think this is why I focus on working with kids and families because I feel the earlier I can make an impact, the better it will be for the child. So that when that child grows, he or she can be a productive adult. Thanks for visiting.

April, 8 2014 at 1:25 pm

Thank you for this. My son is now 19 and lives in Australia, I'm in the UK. When he lived at home it was a daily war zone. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome. As he grew bigger in height age and weight, he started hitting me. I was constantly told to kick him out. How could I ? He was my son and I loved him. I tried so so hard to understand him but failed big time and beat myself up over and over again and still do. It sadddens me so much as his childhood must have been far from happy. Professionals thought he had more going on than what he had been diagnosed but he refused to go and see anyone. Schizophrenia had been mentioned. I just wish I could have done more for him but your article has made me see that yes, I am only human xxx

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 22 2014 at 12:41 am

Hi Sherry,
My heart goes out to you. I can't imagine your pain. It sounds as if you did the best you could for him and now it is up to him to take care of himself. Sometimes, as parents we think we can control every little thing in our children's lives (believe me if I could, I would), but we can't and it's impossible. There's too much going on to have control over anything except ourselves. I'm glad that the article helped you see that you're only human. Take care and please visit again soon.

Tom Cloyd, MS, MA
April, 1 2014 at 5:50 am

A big idea, I truly think. Over and over, in my own growth work and with the people I engage with personally and professionally, the final and often biggest challenge seems to be accepting one's humanity, for that means embracing both the fact of our virtues (and we all have them) and of our failings (and we all have those, too).
It's so hard to only have limited personal resources. Life is big and we are small, and that never changes. THAT's the problem. Making one's peace with this turns out to be Really Good Work. It just pays good dividends. That's been my experience.
And it all begins with seeing, and working to accept, the reality that "you're only human".
Thanks for the reminder!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 22 2014 at 12:36 am

Hi Tom,
Thanks for visiting and sharing. And you're welcome for the reminder. This post really had me thinking about my own struggles with doing a good job all of the time. It is very hard to accept that I'm human and I make mistakes. It was a great reminder for myself. Thanks for reading.

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