Guilt is the last thing with which a parent of a child with epilepsy needs to deal with, especially on top of the daily challenges of taking care of that child and balancing family life poses. Unfortunately, it’s something that many parents feel… and only a few know how to overcome.
A parent may feel guilty because:
- They mistakenly believe they somehow caused their child’s condition
- They are unable to control their child’s seizures
- They feel they have made (or will make) poor choices regarding the various treatment options available to them
Arlene Martell knows that guilt. She has wrestled with it for years since her son Adam’s diagnosis. She’s lain awake at night agonizing over the correct course of treatment and struggled with how best to care for her son. She understands that guilt is a destructive agent that not only takes energy away from treating the child but may also cause parents to overcompensate for the child’s disease and create an “overly close” relationship between them which hinders the child’s natural development. That guilt can even lead to unnecessary stress between spouses or siblings which, given time, can even destabilize a marriage.
That’s why she asked Dr. Robert Mittan, noted epilepsy expert whose innovative research over the last twenty five years has led to many new discoveries, treatment options, and a greater understanding of the disease itself, to sit and talk with her about the root causes of this guilt, its consequences, and—most importantly—ways to confront it head on.
Dr. Mittan, a neuropsychologist who created the S.E.E. (Seizure & Epilepsy Education) Program in response to the lack of available resources for parents learning how to deal with epilepsy, explains that the guilt a parent of a child with epilepsy (especially the mother) feels is often times subconscious and is culturally rooted in the belief that a parent is ultimately responsible for everything that happens to their child. Mittan notes that there is absolutely no truth to that belief where epilepsy is concerned. Epilepsy, by its very definition, is a disease where seizures occur with no apparent immediate trigger and can develop of its own accord due to something as unpredictable as a random gene mutation during gestation.
Arlene leads Mittan through a series of questions that:
- Identify the sources of this guilt
- Debunk misconceptions that perpetuate these feelings of inadequacy
- Show parents they can take back control of their lives through education
- Enable parents to shed those feelings of guilt by confronting them head on
Mittan is the perfect expert with which to discuss this subject as he’s researched it thoroughly over the years and has written an excellent 3-part article entitled “How To Raise A Kid With Epilepsy” (housed in the S.E.E. Program’s digital library) whose last installment deals specifically with the issue of parental guilt.
For more information, or to read this amazingly insightful and helpful article, visit the S.E.E. Program website (http://www.theseeprogram.com/) and click on “S.E.E. Library.”
If you’re feeling guilt regarding your child’s condition, your decisions regarding their treatment, or anything at all, remember you are not alone. Also, please remember that guilt can be overcome. For an excellent introduction on just how to do that, listen to this podcast in its entirety as Arlene tackles this disturbing problem and shows you that it’s okay to live guilt-free.
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