It is always inspiring to bump into parents in the hospital. These are people who for no fault of theirs find themselves responsible for children who are unwell. The level of ill-health experienced by their children, the new role they unknowingly assume as parent carers as well as their own personal strengths make or mar them.
Thorough the challenges they are faced with as a result of their new life, they become shaped into new individuals. Where they lacked strength, they assume self will. Where they lacked understanding they become sometimes even more knowledgeable than the professionals that care for their children. Illnesses can be studied, prevented, managed or cured by the knowledge derived in the four walls of an institution of learning. Knowledge can also be gained by directly experiencing the dynamics an illness can have on a particular individual. This type of knowledge is possessed by the parents and carers whose lives become intertwined with the children who live with various diseases.
The doctors know the science of your child’s illness but it’s important never to doubt your own abilities as a parent when it comes to your ill child. A doctor will give medicines and create plans for your child but you will administer them. One implication of your role and proximity to the patient in this way is that you can carefully begin to have some extra information about your child’s perculiar reaction (positive or negative) to these plans. This is a first-hand knowledge that even excellent doctors require and pay attention to while deciding on the best course of action for children.
Every illness affects people differently. The same illness although having generally known implications for patients across the pack, may still have specific implications for each patient. This is where parents and carers are handy. It may be true that you are not a trained expert but it is fair to say that you know your child best. You understand for instance the peculiar eating or sleeping habits of your child. This may impact on how the care is structured. So for example, a doctor may ask you to give medicine first thing in the morning. You may decide that the medicine will be given after your child has woken up for at least one hour. This decision may be because you know your child will only settle enough for this or any medicine after a nice warm bath.
This example was drawn to show that the knowledge of your own child referred to may not even be medical. However, it will just be enough to keep them more comfortable while they are being treated by the professionals. So it is important to raise these suggestions to your child’s medical team when plans are being made for them. Don’t be shy or embarrassed. It is worth noting that every parent with an unwell child assumes three responsibilities
- Advocate and
You exercise these three facets of yourself for your child to varying degrees at different times and as the need arises. You are primarily the parent when you become the one responsible for the child. It does not matter whether or not you are the biological parent. You also become the carer as soon as your child is unwell requiring more care than is needed to generally look after children of your child’s age and lastly you become an advocate for your child as soon as you find that you have to act or speak out on behalf of your child to enable their needs to be addressed by the various health care professionals and agencies dealing with your child.
So parents and carers are very important in the life blood of an ill child. Their role should never be overlooked or underestimated. Parents and carers also need to believe more in their position and act on behalf of the child at all times. This way both parents, carers and health professionals will be putting the child at the heart of every decision that pertains to the child
Thank you for reading.
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