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Parenting with Bipolar Disorder

Updated on March 23, 2012

This hub is written to answer the question: "Isn't it selfish to want to have children, when you're diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder?"

As a parent with bipolar disorder, I can understand both sides of this issue. With one daughter grown and living independently and two adolescent sons, it is true that my children may have been through their share of trials with my occasional hospitalizations and episodes of depression. Even though parenting with bipolar disorder has its challenges, it also has its rewards.

I am truly blessed to have three wonderful children. My older son is active in sports. My younger son is very friendly and outgoing. My daughter lives independently while saving money to attend college.

I chose to homeschool my daughter for most of her school years. She ended up being a National Merit Scholarship finalist. Both of my sons do very well in their school. I would say that children of a bipolar parent do not necessarily have any academic problems due to the illness. Of course, there could be a problem if the bipolar parent is ill and not taking the children to school.

There is one effect that might be attributed to bipolar disorder. I found it very difficult to hold down a job for an extended period of time. During my highs, I would work two or even three jobs. During the depression, I'd struggle to be productive at all. Eventually, I was approved for SSI, but my children and I lived in poverty most of the time. We were the working class poor. Perhaps as a result of that, my children are incredibly grateful for all the small things. If I make something for dinner that my younger son likes, he will thank me. My children thank everyone for any little kindness.

As far as whether or not bipolar disorder is hereditary, yes, it can be. But having a parent with bipolar disorder does not mean that all of the children will have bipolar disorder. I have two siblings, but I am the only one who has bipolar disorder. Clinical depression runs in my family, which increases the risk of bipolar disorder.

At this time, none of my children show any signs of bipolar disorder. I would like to think that if they were to develop the disorder, at least they know that I understand how they feel and can help them navigate the illness.

One thing my children do have is a healthy dose of creativity. As is common with people who have bipolar disorder, I am creative. I am an artist, writer, and a poet. My children always have been encouraged to explore their creativity. I love the days when I paint on my easel next to my sons as they paint.

The household with a bipolar parent isn't so different from any other household. Of course, there are the occasional problems as any family faces. But, it's not like the bipolar parent is always in crisis. I took my sons to football practice like any other parent. My children and I did housekeeping chores like everyone else. At this very moment, my sons are enjoying a Friday night by playing their video games.

So, yes, parenting with bipolar disorder can be difficult. My children have seen me depressed. My youngest son knows that if I am hospitalized, he should bring me a sketchbook and pencils. These things are unique to families with bipolar disorder parents. But beyond the occasional hiccup in the management of my disorder, we are an American family.


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    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 6 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Awesome hub. Thank you for sharing openly.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 6 years ago from Finland

      I like this hub. You are very honest, Sheila. There are parents with different diseases or disorders in many families, and I'm sure that isn't only negative for the children.

    • Escobana profile image

      Escobana 6 years ago from Valencia

      Great answer to my question! It's good to read a positive story about raising children, when you're Bipolar.

      I hope you don't mind me linking your Hub to mine: Thank God, I don't have children! We all have our own personal story and our own personal reasons for wanting to have children or not, when you're Bipolar.

      I didn't have the guts to be honest but I have no regrets at all. A sterilization at the age of 30 seems very drastic but it was the only option to me.

      I hope you'll link my Hub to yours as well and I wonder what your views are on my decision. I'm truly happy to receive such a sincere answer to my question!

      Voted up, shared and away!

    • profile image 6 years ago

      I am also bipolar. My husband and I have raised three children. We did have our problems but we dealt with them. They are all in their twenties and living happy lives with families of their own. Thanks for bring this topic out in the open.