How I Parent With Crohn’s Disease
In various aspects of my life, I have always felt the need to be honest about my health conditions. When I first met my husband, one of the first things I shared was my struggle with Crohn’s disease and the challenges it brings. Similarly, when I made friends or applied for teaching jobs, I was always upfront and transparent about my health. I believed that being honest from the beginning was better than dealing with a flare-up without support later on.
In the past, I had relationships and jobs where my health issues were not accepted or accommodated for. This only added to the guilt I already felt about having this condition. So, I made a decision to no longer hide behind my health issues. Instead, I sought out relationships and employment with people who were understanding and supportive. This shift allowed me to shed some of my guilt and surround myself with those who accepted and welcomed me.
However, when it comes to parenting with Crohn’s disease, I find it more challenging. Our children don't have a choice about being involved with someone who has health challenges; they are born into it. While I believe my son would still choose me if given the option, he wasn't given that choice. Therefore, we have had to teach him from an early age to accept and embrace our health journey.
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After my son was born, we never questioned whether we should share my Crohn's disease journey with him. We agreed that hiding it wouldn't benefit him. So, we taught him to embrace this journey just like we would with anyone else. We keep the information age-appropriate, but we don't hide when I'm having a bad day or need medical attention.
At the age of 8, my son understands that sometimes I need to rest, see doctors, or have treatments. He may worry occasionally, but I'd rather him be aware than caught off guard. He has become one of my biggest supporters, always cheering me on no matter what I'm going through. Of course, there are moments when he gets upset because my health affects our plans, but we openly discuss these situations and how to support each other.
I used to feel guilty about exposing my son to my health challenges, but I now see it as a superpower. By showing him how to accept and love someone regardless of their health struggles, I am teaching him valuable lessons. I am also teaching him to be empathetic, strong, and kind-hearted. He is learning that health challenges do not have to limit someone's life and that perseverance is key.
In these moments, I am also showing him that I am more than my Crohn's disease diagnosis. Yes, it may affect my health at times, but it doesn't define me. I am a creative, responsible, innovative, and hardworking person who will always show him love.