Studies say that when parents are in pain, children suffer. Many suffer from chronic pain, unfortunately, chronic pain does not only affect the patient, it also affects those around them.
In one study published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, researchers interviewed a group of 30 adolescents who grew up with parents experiencing chronic pain. In many cases, the children felt their parents were uninvolved physically and/or emotionally, and more likely to be irritable, hostile, and unpredictable. Because of this, the children often hid their true feelings and needs from their parents, lived in fear of stressing their parents out or causing their parents pain, took on a caretaking role before they were ready to do so, and questioned whether they were to blame for their parents’ suffering. The children and young adults dealt with these feelings in various ways—becoming perfectionists, retreating in silence, or turning to substance abuse.
Another study published in the Journal of Pain, compared 39 mothers with chronic pain to 35 pain-free mothers. The mothers with chronic pain reported that they were more likely to be lax in their parenting and that the quality of their relationships with their children suffered compared to mothers without pain. A study published in Pain examined teenagers whose parents had chronic pain. Researchers found that if both parents experienced chronic pain, girls were particularly at risk for anxiety and depression compared to girls whose parents were pain free. What’s more, if it was the mothers who were in pain, girls were also at a greater risk for conduct problems in school.
Two separate studies found that children whose parents have chronic pain are at greater risk for feeling chronic pain themselves. Researchers don’t know if this is due to genetics or a learned behavior pattern, but whatever the reason, the children are still in pain.
It is tough to consider how pain might affect parenting. But one of the many things regarding being a mother is the demanding physical work it entails; especially if you’re one of the100 million Americans with chronic pain.
For more information on the nonnarcotic treatment of chronic pain, contact the Franklin Pain and Wellness Center in Franklin.