Every family is a balanced system. After learning of a child's chronic illness, families understandably experience some loss of equilibrium that threatens their stability. The stress of a serious illness can cause severe disruptions, particularly if each parent attempts to deal with his or her own fears and frustrations alone.
In some instances mothers and fathers may become consumed with the care of their ill child, at the expense of nearly everything else in their lives. In these situations parents may find themselves almost constantly investigating new options, reading about alternative treatments, and pondering the future: Is there a better medication for my child? Is it worth getting another doctor's opinion? Can I be doing more?
As a parent, you might sometimes feel that the demands upon you are unending, from trips to the doctor's office to the preparation of special meals. You may feel constantly fatigued, never able to recoup your energy. If anything gets sacrificed, it is often time spent with your spouse, or time for your own personal interests and pursuits.
On the other hand, a child's chronic illness often has some positive effects on families. A child with health problems may bring parents and other family members closer. Families—especially those who communicate openly—may be strengthened by experiences associated with managing their child's health impairment. In many cases, the family's management of a child's chronic illness may provide them with a sense of cohesiveness, mission, mastery, and pride.
Physicians, psychologists, social workers, family therapists, and parents of other children with chronic illnesses are invaluable resources for working through family difficulties. Ask for help. You should not expect or attempt to solve all family problems associated with your child's illness by yourself. Isolation is a preventable side effect of caring for a child with a chronic health condition.