What It’s Like to Be Your Child’s Caregiver
As a parent, you want to be there to take care of your children, but you may not have expected to be their full-time caregiver. When your child has a disability, is living with a chronic illness, or is dependent on you because of an accident, caring for your child takes on a whole new meaning.
Feeling an Added Responsibility
When your child needs you, you want to be there for them, and when you’re their primary caregiver, it might be all that you can think about. As a result, you might find yourself putting more pressure on your day-to-day life to be there for your child. You may also find yourself worrying more than usual, wanting to do everything in your power to make sure they’re comfortable and happy.
And while you want to be there for your child, it’s also important to check in with them to see what they need from you. If they’re older, they might still want to feel a sense of independence, which means you may need to give them space when they ask for it. Even though they need you, the reality is that they may not need you at all hours of the day, depending on their condition. Giving them what they ask for can even strengthen your relationship over time.
Wanting to Be Their Superhero
It’s normal to feel a sense of helplessness when you’re your child’s caregiver. While you want to be their cheerleader in life, now you may also feel like you want to be their superhero too. It’s not unusual to want to do all you can to ease their pain and make them feel as whole as possible, but being their champion doesn’t have to be your life’s sole mission. It’s essential to set aside the time to identify who you are outside of being your child’s caregiver.
If your child has a terminal illness and something were to happen to them, it would be important for you to find your identity again over time. While caregiving may be what you do, it doesn’t make up all of who you are.
Knowing It’s Not Your Fault
More often than not, when caregiving for your child, you might feel a sense of guilt and that they’re where they are because of something you did. However, blaming yourself adds unnecessary stress to an already hard situation. And the likelihood is that there is nothing you could have done to change your child’s predicament, but you can be there for them now when they need you most.
And even though the future you hoped for them may look different than it did before, it doesn’t mean that you still can’t look forward to each moment that you spend with them. Your child is lucky to have a parent who cares so much about them, and while you may always want to be there for them, there may be a day when you can’t care for them like you once could. So ask others for help when you need it and allow others to share the responsibility of caring for them.
Just as much as you are there for them, it’s essential to be there for you too. So don’t hesitate to schedule a call with a professional counselor when you need someone to talk to about what you’re feeling on a day-to-day basis.
Photo credit: Eren Li, via Pexels