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Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

Parenting With MS

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Tips for Parenting With MS continued...

Be honest. Shielding your kids from your MS doesn't work. "Kids are so perceptive, they'll know something is going on," Richman says. If you don't tell them what's happening, they fill in the blanks. What they imagine may be much scarier than the truth.

Match information to your child's age. With little kids, explain symptoms in concrete ways. "Say that Mommy has a headache and needs to rest," Richman says. They can understand that. As they get older, tell them more about your condition. Encourage them to ask questions, and let them guide what you discuss.

Get help. Don't wait until you're overwhelmed. Ask friends and family to help with specific tasks. Contact MS advocacy groups to find out about resources in your area. If you have a support system in place, you won't rely too much on your kids for help.

Be there. If MS slows down your career, take advantage of the extra time with your kids. "Many parents who are physically well are so busy, they aren't really available to their kids," Richman says. Being a parent isn't just about doing stuff -- it's about being there. "Just holding and hugging your kids means so much, or letting them climb into bed with you to talk," she says.

Focus on what you can do. Kalb says many parents with MS dwell on specific things they can't do for their kid, such as not being able to sew a homemade Halloween costume or coach the soccer team. In your mind, those things may be symbolic of being a good parent. Talking with other parents with MS can help reset your expectations.

"Parents with MS discover new ways to connect with their kids and spend time with them," Kalb says. "They find things they never would have thought of if MS hadn't forced them to think differently, to be more creative."

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Reviewed on October 25, 2014

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