Clinging to HOPE: Parenting Children with Mental Health Issues

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Clinging to HOPE: Parenting Children with Mental Health Issues
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About the Author

Nikki Taylor

Nikki Taylor

Nikki Taylor is the Registered Early Childhood Educator with extensive experience in childcare, family support and adult education at the Oakville Parent Child Centre. Nikki is also a continuing education instructor of professional relationship skills in the Early Childhood Education Department at Sheridan College. She is the mother of three adult children, and grandmother of two.

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Let me start by saying, that I am certainly not an expert in this area. My formal education is in Early Childhood Education, Adult Education and Parenting. I hold no certificates, degrees or diplomas in mental health. What I do bring to this discussion is personal experience; an education of the most practical kind.

My story is not really different than many others, and all I aspire to do by sharing it, is offer hope to those who may be facing a similar journey. The statistics for children experiencing mental health issues is staggering, and they are being afflicted at younger and younger ages. We have got to pay attention, ask ourselves why, and take swift action. The very lives of our children will depend on it.

I have three adult children, two of which have struggled with various mental health issues while growing up. Depression, anxiety, ADHD, and ODD were all uninvited members of our family. They came knocking during my children’s growing years, and for the most part; I had no idea what I was dealing with at the time. And my journey to acceptance and understanding began!

I count my blessings every day when I look at my children, who have grown to be wonderful, compassionate and kind human beings. Our journey (dark as it may have been at times) has helped to shape these aspects in them. I could go on about the trials, tribulations, therapy and troubles we had, but I have far too much respect for their stories to publicly air them here. Their stories belong to them and to share them or not are their decisions. I will offer this nugget of hope for those who may be in the trenches currently. Mother Nature has a way of preserving our sanity, and much of the distress I experienced has become fading and distant memories, certainly saving me from my own “diagnosis”. Needless to say, there were some very difficult times, but for me, giving up was never an option. Parents just don’t give up on their kids…..ever.

At times, the only thing that kept me moving was HOPE. It truly felt like that was all I was able to cling to, and often barely. I was paralyzed by fear. Fear of what could happen to my precious children, and fear for their futures. But it was my job to hold them up when they couldn’t stand, and my job to be the beacon of light for them when the world seemed darkest. Often, I managed that only with the hope I held in my heart and soul, that tomorrow would be better and sometimes it was.

Hope however, can only take you so far. I am certain that the outcomes for my family would not have turned out as well had it not been for the many friends, family and wonderful, caring professionals who educated, supported and sometimes said the words for us that we could not find. Parenting was never a journey meant to be done alone, and when parenting through challenging times, your proverbial “village” becomes your lifeline. Don’t fear reaching out. You are not alone.

The old adage “hindsight is 20/20” is so true, but if I hadn’t had these experiences, I wouldn’t have learned as much. Nor would I have developed the interest, passion and understanding I have for children and families who struggle with the often misunderstood faces of these difficult and scary circumstances.

My children are grown, still struggle at times, but isn’t that the way life goes? We all have our struggles, but at least we have each other. I am indebted to them for all the lessons they have taught me about patience, understanding, humility, tenacity and resilience. I look at them with awe and wonder, and am proud of the people they have become. They have made me a better person and I am eternally grateful.

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