Sometimes, a parent can lose his or her custody rights due to mental illness. This happens if the parent cannot provide for the child in his or her best interests. If you have custody of your children and your former spouse is in this situation, your children may be afraid or confused.
According to MD Edge, children may struggle with the fact that their parent has a mental illness. There are steps that you can take to explain the situation to your children.
Do not avoid the conversation
There is a stigma around mental illness that causes some parents to hide the truth from their children. You may worry that people will find out or that your children will not understand. Allow children to understand. If someone teases him or her about the parent’s mental illness, the knowledge you hand off will provide them with a way to counter what others say. They will trust you more for being open and honest.
Expect different reactions from different age groups
During the discussion, be empathetic. It is completely normal for children to feel upset or confused. Be empathetic without encouraging misbehavior. If his or her other parent is receiving treatment, make this clear. Teenagers may feel guilty if he or she was critical of the mentally ill parent, whereas younger children may feel like they contributed. Acknowledge your children’s feelings, help them to understand that mental illness can improve. Ask your children questions to find out if they think they should have done something differently or if they want to know why their parent is ill.