Kids & Chronic Parents: What You Need to Know


Yep, you just saw my “big kid” cry over something silly. You just saw my preschooler scowl and run away like a grumpy little tumble weed. Before you look at me sideways, say your cutting little remarks, or judge my kids – let me tell you a secret. Their dad is living with a chronic illness.

While other kids were sitting around watching Saturday morning cartoons, mine were too. The only difference is that my kids’ dad was laying in the hallway having a seizure. A bloody froth came from his mouth while his body jolted and shook uncontrollably. I tried to wipe the blood away quickly, but I know they saw it.

While other kids don’t give a second thought to their dad taking a nap on the couch, mine DO! My preschooler hears one snore and comes running up to me wide eyed, “Is daddy having a seizure?”

While other kids were occupying themselves with homework until dinner time, mine were too. The only difference is that my kids were wondering if daddy was going to make it home on his own.

My husband has had medical emergencies away from home more than a few times. When that happens there is only one thing to do – load up the kids and go look for daddy. Once we find him and bring him home, there are lots of hugs, kisses, and reassurances, but that doesn’t completely cancel out the hours of worry that a long and stressful search caused.

These concerns are always on their mind. How do I know? Because they are always talking about it. Always.

“Is daddy ok?”

“Yes, he just called to say that he’s on his way home.”

“Yeah, but if he doesn’t make it home we’re ready to go right?”

That was our conversation just the other day. It was justified. I hadn’t told my little boy, but I had not started dinner yet just in case we needed to go get his daddy.

I’m the calming and reassuring force in our home during stressful times. I’ve become a master of putting on a calm exterior to mask my own concerns. I do it for the kids’ sake. But no matter how much I try to comfort and shield them, they know when things are going on. They may not know everything, but they know when things are not right.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a happy home full of strong, beautiful, silly little kids. But we all live with an underlying stressor.  During times of medical flare-ups, this underlying stress shoots up to much higher levels. This means that small disappointments and frustrations that other children would be able to shrug off may be the breaking point for my kids.

You see my kids fuss, whine, cry, over-react, ect. But what you don’t see is the reason behind it all. Yes, they get in trouble when they misbehave. They don’t have a free pass to act like a brat, but there are going to be times when they are a bit of a mess. That’s just the way it is. All I ask is for a little bit of understanding.

When there is chronic illness in the house it affects everyone. As parents we walk the fine line between shielding them from what is actually going on, and cluing them in on things that are impossible to hide. Kids. See. Everything.


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