How to Talk to Your Child About Your Depression
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For a lot of single moms balance, emotional and physical support is hard to come by. Often left alone to bear all the responsibilities of parenting. As a result, contributing to the development of depression. Your child may not understand what you are going through, so before the situation festers, think of positive ways to talk to your child about your depression.
No matter how young your child is or when you think they may be ready for this kind of conversation, it's still important to prepare. Depression can affect children as early as infancy to teenager. Break past the uncomfortableness and try to have a positive conversation about mental illness, especially if it runs in the family.
Due to a single mom never ending to do list, her mental health tends to get pushed aside for all else more often than it should. Depending on the condition, single mothers with mental illness may struggle with things like sleep problems, attention and concentration issues, moodiness, fatigue, or irritability. Making it impossible to nurture her child. Believe or not, children are extremely perceptive.
Children tend to have a lot of questions when someone they love is sick or in trouble. And when these questions go unanswered they use their imaginations to come up with answers on their own. Don't leave your child in the dark about your depression. Start by just having an open and honest discussion. Don't quite know where to start exactly? No problem. Here are some ways to talk to your child about your depression.
Emotional Support for Single Mothers
Left to shoulder the majority of the responsibilities of parenting, single mothers often feel lonely, stressed, and overwhelmed. There is a lot of pressure on single moms to be perfect. Often single moms will feel less inclined to admit to any mental illness for fear of being labeled incompetent and losing her children.
Single mothers with depression need to learn to start asking for help. It truly does take a village to raise a child. We need to acknowledge when we can’t do it all on our own, and to accept that everything will not get done without feeling burnt out. With the right support, it is possible for single moms with depression to overcome these challenges to have healthy and happy lives with her kids.
If possible try having a conversation with your child's other parent about your depression and how they can help you. Help by taking the children when your depression becomes unbearable. Help when it's time to talk to your children about your depression and do it together. If that is not possible due to the situation with your child's father, try having a conversation with a family member, a close friend, or a trustworthy member of your spiritual/religious organization.
How to Explain Depression
Unfortunately, children are not the only people being left in the dark about what depression really is. You may have to explain your depression to your child's father, family member, a close friend, or a trustworthy member of your spiritual/religious organization. Sometimes what they see is someone they perceive as sad or moody. Because it’s so foreign to most people that haven’t experienced it, the best way to explain it is with metaphors and analogies that allow them to relate depression to their own life experiences.
Though difficult it can be, it’s extremely important to talk about depression with someone you care about because it can help with the management of the illness. It’s an issue that needs to be managed, and understood, by everyone. Before you begin, make sure that the person you’re talking to knows that this is important to you and that they do not need to be worried.
Let them know that depression is incredibly exhausting. Basic tasks like getting out of bed or preparing a meal for your family can sometimes feel overwhelming. explain your need to be isolated and don't want to feel like a burden to others. Also, explain that just because you have depression it doesn’t mean that every day is going to be bad. And that on the off chance you do have a good day it doesn’t mean that you are cured.
My Depression is Affecting My Child
Single moms who struggle with the challenges of depression find it difficult, and next to impossible find the energy to take their children to the park, reading books or even talking. Depression can have a profound impact your child's development.
In fact, research has shown that mothers with depression are less likely to interact with their children in active ways, which can impact their relationship with their child, and the child’s emotional, cognitive and language development (Tartakovsky, 2011). A depressed mom with a toddler will not be in the right frame of mind to devote the kind of attention the child needs. By your child living with a depressed single mother may cause increased levels of anxiety and withdrawn emotions that endure over time.
Explaining Mental Illness to a Child
Just like you had to break it down for your adult loved ones, your child will need the same kind of education. Start by comparing your depression to something that your child may already be familiar with like the flu, cold, or ear infection. Also be sure to use age-appropriate language with your kids. There’s not a one-size-fits-all set of instructions on how much to say to kids and what words to use.
We are the ones who set limits and impose on our domain, we are also the ones who must nourish in our child a strong, independent mind. Allow your child to talk openly and communicate her views and feelings. Avoid interrupting, judging or punishing her for her feelings. This will just cause your child to keep her feelings to herself.
Even at young ages, children often attempt to make things better for a parent who’s hurting. Do explain that this illness is your own and it has nothing to do with anything they may have done. Also, reassure your child that you’re doing all you can to get better.
In single-parent homes, especially for single moms, it’s important to have a conversation about mental health. Depression affects children too, and talking regularly about how everyone is feeling is an important part of mental health management. With these tips, single mothers with depression can also balance their many obligations and preserve their quality of life with their children. More importantly how the mom handles the illness and her relationship with her children.
Leave a comment below and let us know how you talk mental illness in your home. Remember this is a judgment-free and safe zone!