When one of your parents is suffering from persistent pain, find some advice and tips here.
- Make her* a nice drawing.
- Talk about – and write down – things you can do together when she has a good day.
- Ask for her help with homework.
- Let her quiz you for tests.
- Watch movies together.
- Play games together.
- Simple chores in the household, like picking up things from the supermarket, setting the table, putting dishes in the dishwasher (or taking them out) etc.
- If she’s sad, comfort her by:
– Putting an arm around her and hugging her carefully.
– Making a joke.
- Telling her that she’s nice and that you love her.
- Distracting her by telling a story about your friends, or something that happened at school.
Maybe it sometimes feels like you can’t do anything for your mother when she’s in a lot of pain, but that’s not true. For example: it’s really nice for her to see that you keep doing your best in school. You also don’t have to feel bad about having fun when she’s in a lot of pain. That’s not necessary at all. If anything, knowing that you’re having a good time will make her happy! Any of these things should bring her a little bit of joy at least.
If you’re worried:
Maybe you’re worried about the ailment or pain your mother suffers from, and what’s going to happen at home. It is important that you know what she’s suffering from and what that sickness or pain means.
So keep asking your mother, father, grandpa, grandma, aunt or whoever it is you like talking to the most to explain the sickness. Don’t keep walking around alone with your head full of questions, such as wondering if the pain is going to get worse, or if you’ll end up inheriting the disease. There’s probably someone around who will be happy to answer your questions.
- Write it down. Write about your feelings and put the letter in a nice box or maybe you’ll even want to rip the letter into bits and throw it away.
- Let yourself be comforted by your favorite pet or plushy, or your grandma or grandpa, or other people you like.
- If you’re so angry that you want to break something or kick something, punch a large pillow or tear apart a bunch of old paper.
- Look for distraction. Go do whatever it is that’ll be the best distraction for you at that moment, like: drawing, painting, playing a computer game, biking, listening to music, playing outside, going over to a friend’s house, hugging your pet or your plushy, singing, watching a movie, playing soccer or baking a cake. Whatever you can think of (as long as it’s not dangerous or prohibited) works if it provides you with some distraction and ease of mind.
- Talk about it with someone.
- You don’t need to hide your sadness. You should be allowed to be angry or sad sometimes. It’s only logical and your parents will understand. Maybe it’s even a good thing when you tell other people that you’re angry or sad about your mother’s sickness. That way they can better understand you.
If you’re feeling guilty: Do you sometimes feel guilty when you’re going to soccer training, or to play at a friend’s house when your mother is in pain? Are you sometimes worried about whether she’ll be fine without you?
Try to keep in mind that it’s nice for your mom to know that you can relax and have fun. It is important that you keep doing the things that every child needs to be able to do. It’s extra nice that your mother doesn’t need to worry about you! You definitely shouldn’t ever feel guilty about your mom’s ailment; it’s not your fault, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
- Explain it to others
Maybe you can hold a presentation in class at some point where you explain what changed since your mother became sick.
If your mother or father is sick, unfortunately you have to deal with it every day as well. It’s not fun, and of course you’d rather have your mother and father both be healthy and do all the things you want to do together. Nevertheless, this sickness also has a few positive qualities. Maybe it’ll help your bond with your family grow stronger. You’ll become more independent since you need to do more on your own than many of your peers. You’ll also get stronger because you’ve learned how to deal with bothersome things. You probably couldn’t care less about any of that right now, but it will come in really handy as you get older
When you’re ±14 years or older:
Look up information about your mother’s sickness to shape a better understanding about what’s going on with her and what will be expected of you:
Consider what you think is important to do for yourself, and view it as separate from the tasks you have at home. Determine your own boundaries in helping. You have to build up your own life and you have to be able to follow an education that interests you. To be able to relax and build up energy, you need the time to partake in activities you enjoy. That way you can also keep in touch with your friends or make new ones. Talk at home about what times you’re unavailable and what chores won’t work for you. It’s not egotistical. It’s necessary in order to keep up with your chores at home and to build up an independent life later on
- Talk about it
Try to find someone you trust. Someone who is aware of the situation, like an uncle, an aunt, grandma or grandpa, a neighbor or a friend.
Look for a way to do something positive with your experiences. For example writing, painting, acting in plays or playing sports can all be good ways of venting your emotions. Besides, it might be helpful in processing your experiences.
Tell a number of important people from your day-to-day life, such as your teacher, the coach of your sports club, a classmate or studying buddy, about what’s going on at home.
Ask people in your vicinity for help when you find you can’t keep up with everything at home, and you can’t talk about it with your friends or family. Talk to your doctor, your mentor at school, a social worker or someone with an education in psychological health. Don’t allow yourself to walk around with physical problems, insomnia, concentration problems, fears or feelings of anger, loneliness and sadness for too long. Don’t try to ease the pain through alcohol and drugs.
Below you’ll find some of the dos and don’ts from the book: ‘Coping with chronic pain, a team effort. For You and Your Kids’:
- Learn and understand what the sickness of your parent means.
- Keep doing the things you were doing as much as possible. Keep doing your best in school, and keep playing sports, making music and hanging out with your friends.
- Discuss what chores work best for you with your parents.
- Discuss your concerns, fears and sorrow with your parents.
- If you really think it’s better to avoid your parents, look for a trustworthy person outside of the family you can talk to about it.
- Make your school aware of your situation with the help of your parent(s) or somebody else you trust.
- Contact people and join peer groups for those in similar situations.
- Skip school to help at home.
- Give up your sports club or music classes to help at home.
- Hide your fears, concerns and sadness from your parents.
- Use alcohol or drugs to forget about the situation at home
* To improve the readability of this page, I will refer to the patient as ‘she,’ ‘her’ and ‘mother’ instead of using ‘he/she,’ ‘his/her’ ‘mother/father,’ all the time. It reads so much easier and I will assume that everyone is able to fill in the correct form. I chose to write in the female form because chronic pain is more common amongst females than it is amongst males. For the child I have chosen for the male form, as a contrast to the female patient.