The Tough Road for Siblings of Kids With Arthritis

On our dates we have hot waffles and ice cream.

On our dates out together we have hot waffles and ice cream.

If you have a child who lives in chronic pain you can’t stop it having an impact on your other children.

As I struggled to cope with the added pressure of my daughter living in pain, I came to have unrealistic expectations of my other younger daughter.

I realised one day I felt angry if ever she got sick. Inside I would think, “No! I NEED you to be well”.

I came to depend on my second child to be patient at endless doctors appointments. I expected her to be super kind to her sister.

Over time I gave her a lot less attention because I felt she wasn’t needing me as much.

At some point I became aware that my behavior was unfair. I negotiated some agreements with my daughter.

  • We decided she could have a “wellness” day off school every few months.
  • We set up a regular date to go out for hot waffles and ice cream.
  • We decided that on our dates we would not talk about her sister.
  • We agreed that she would not attend her siblings doctors appointments with us.
  • We agreed that she did not have to visit her sister in hospital unless she chose to.
  • My daughter had special holidays with family and friends to have a fun breaks from our stressed household.
  • We found her a psychologist and agreed she could visit her whenever she felt she needed to.
  • I made a decision to let the kids sort out their own relationship and try to mind my own business.

The American Academy of Pediatrics website has a page on Siblings of Kids With Chronic Illness. I recommend you have a quick read.

These days my daughters get on well.  I’ll never know how much the changes I made have influenced this.

Do you have special strategies you use in your family?

Waffle photo courtesy of Bunnyhero at Flickr Creative Commons.