Many parents recognize the need to children to have a stable environment to grow up in and know that their parents are safe and secure people to be with. However, sometimes these important aspects of a children’s life can be altered or threatened when mental illness is part of the family. When a parent suffers from bipolar disorder, it can shake the child’s stability factor as the parent experiences unannounced changes in mood.
As a child begins to experience this kind of uncontrollable environment, it can lead to negative effects on the child’s mental and emotional health.
A parent’s bipolar disorder can affect the mental, emotional and physical health of a child in many ways, including the following:
For children, one of the most important things a parent can do is be present in their lives. This ranges from supporting them in athletic activities and being available to talk when needed. All parents are not perfect, however if a parent has an untreated bipolar disorder, then it can close off this line of communication and support with the child. This will occur when a parent’s behavior is erratic, quickly swinging from depression to euphoria and back again.
A major symptom of bipolar disorder is racing thoughts, where a person finds it difficult calm the mind and process information rationally. Children look to their parents for a sense of mental stability. If a parent is preoccupied and can’t stay organized or consistently composed, he or she can quickly push their child away without giving them the direction they need.
Parents are the most important people in children’s lives, as they are responsible for their upbringing and how they develop into young adults. The most important thing parents can do for their children is make sure they themselves are mentally and physically healthy. Showing support, promoting good behavior, and consistently encouraging a child is a full-time job that should not be compromised because of bipolar disorder.1
Being a stable, loving parent for your child — even with bipolar disorder — is possible. Call our toll-free, 24- hour helpline today at 615-490-9376, to get the support and effective treatment you need. You don’t have to fight your bipolar disorder alone: healing is available. Let us help you get it… for yourself and your children.
1 “Bipolar Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, April 2016.