When a former colleague learned I’d started Crazy Good Parent, he congratulated me but also said “crazy parent” and “good parent” were pretty much mutually exclusive to him.
That’s the fallacy we’re trying to counter here. Dealing with a disordered mind certainly makes parenting more challenging. But, because I’m bipolar, there are experiences I’ve had and things I’ve learned that have helped me parent my children. Here are a few:
There’s not much my kids can do that shocks me. My son thinks he wouldn’t be able to do drugs or get drunk without my having some sixth sense about it; I’m not telling him otherwise. He also knows that he can talk to me about things his friends’ parents just don’t want to hear.
I’m not afraid of much. Going to China to bring a daughter home was a piece of cake for someone who’s trusted—again and again—that the swallowing darkness will eventually recede.
Years and years of therapy have taught me the rules of engagement. I know how to talk the no-blaming, no-shaming talk. Though I don’t always remember, I’ve learned that my children’s own punishment of themselves when they’ve stumbled is far more powerful than my screaming. And when I stumble, I’ve got a professional support team at my back.
Yes, parenting is harder when your brain doesn’t always cooperate. But that doesn’t make “crazy” and “good” mutually exclusive. It’s not just holiday schmaltz that makes me believe my disorder has, in some ways, made me a better parent.
What about you? How has being a crazy parent also made you a good one?
A therapist told me once that my anxiety disorder was a gift to my children because it makes me empathetic. Some days I feel like it isn’t fair to the boys to deal with me as a Mom. But I hope as they grow there will be more days when my empathy can serve them.
Lovely post. Really resonated.
And, of course, I never doubt that other parents I know who struggle with mental illness are terrific parents. No offence to your former coworker, but calling crazy and good parenting mutually exclusive is ignorant. And similar to saying that any chronic illness is not compatible with parenting.
Love what your therapist said. I hadn’t thought about anxiety as creating empathy. I know my depression has. My kids have a name for me based on my anxiety, “The Protectress.” They have a whole cast of superhero names for everyone in the family.
Yes, I agree my former coworker is ignorant…and not just about this! As if having diabetes or high blood pressure makes on unfit to parent, right?
Thanks for dropping in. BTW, would you like to write about your crazy for us?
Oh man, that would be awesome. If you want to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org we can work something out. Thanks for asking, it is really nice of you.
That’s crazy (for lack of a better word) that someone would think that!! I feel like my anxiety has made me so much less judgmental, more compassionate towards my kids, and more introspective. Being highly aware of my “weakness” as a parent has made me strive to be better in so many ways. Lately, I’ve been teaching my kids what I’ve learned in therapy about deep breathing. It’s amazing how when they are totally stressing out, if I just remind them to breathe, how they can calm themselves down. Something I never learned as a child. I just feel like no matter who you are, and what challenges you face, your weaknesses can make you stronger, and I feel like they can make your family stronger as a result.
Well said! Hope you’ll check back next week for the yoga post I’ve got scheduled. I’m going to see if I can get my daughter to shoot me doing the poses or even get my husband to shoot both of us. She says she doesn’t want to be on the Internet, but she does a hilarious yoga pose: downward dog with fire hydrant.
EVERY parent has challenges…the job isn’t a breeze for anyone, mental disorder or not. I also think the term “crazy” can apply to more than just mental disorder. Most everyone has something form of “crazy,” something that falls outside the norm…and those things are not what define whether we are good parents or not. HOW WE DEAL WITH THEM in terms of ourselves and our children does. There are thousands of people successfully managing disorders, phobias, illnesses, hangups, etc. I don’t see my anxiety making me an any worse a parent than feeding them junk food…it’s about balance.