Many of my listeners have heard me discuss my family and I have mentioned my son. When I was pregnant with him, I was sick a lot and now I wonder if that was because he was feeling unsettled, even in utero. The moment he was born he needed me intensely, much more than my daughter. He always wanted to be in my arms and would cry and cry when not with me. In the first few years of his life he continued to be very attached to me and I noticed the difference with his behaviour and sensitivity in comparison to my daughter, but just assumed that this was just a usual variation in personalities. I heard many around me tell me I should “give him more space or let him cry”, but it didn’t feel right. If he wanted me why would I reject him? But was my attention to his needs creating this problem? I questioned myself all of the time.
As time went on he had a lot of difficulty being independent. Daycare drop off’s were hard, even at 4 and 5 years old. He even went through a few periods when he refused to eat all day while at daycare. I had no idea what was happening and was torn between frustration, anger and compassion. It wasn’t until he was about 4 years old that it hit me. He had anxiety. From that point forward I looked at his behaviour and moods much differently and have tried to adjust my parenting to meet his needs. Trust me. I’m not perfect and I’m still left confused and defeated at times when he is struggling and I don’t seem to have the answers. This week’s guest on Caregivers’ Circle, Ann Douglas, author of Parenting Through the Storm is here to talk about raising a child with a mental health challenge. Listen here.