Understanding of the problems of parents with mental illness is growing. Gaining insight into strategies for parenting, while taking the opportunities formulated by these parents themselves as a starting point is fairly new.
What are the strategies of parents with a mental illness to be successful?
Experiences of 19 mothers and eight fathers with a mental illness were explored with in-depth interviews. Data were content analysed, using qualitative methods.
Next to feelings of inadequacy, interviewees also describe how children enrich and structure their lives and are not only a burden but serve as distraction from problems. Developing activities that interest both child and parent provides avenues for emerging strength. Mental illness constrains fathers, but also gives opportunities to develop a meaningful relation with their children.
Strategies like being fully dedicated to the parental role, finding a balance between attention for one's own life and parenting and finding adequate sources of support are found to be fundamental for recovery in the parent role. Implications for practice Peer groups can be of valuable help and mental health workers can support parents to set self-chosen parenting related goals.