Dear Coleen: Having a sick daughter makes me feel like a failure as a parent


Dear Coleen

How do I stop myself feeling like a failure with my children?

My youngest has health issues – it’s just one thing after another. And, although I know it’s not my fault, I can’t help but feel guilty and desperately sorry for her.

But then I feel bad that I’m spending more time with her, and that my older daughter may feel forgotten about.

I don’t always feel that I can talk to my partner about it because it just seems to be the same old story.

I just wish I didn’t feel so drained and down about it all the time. Any suggestions?

Coleen says

Firstly, stop beating yourself up.

One thing that’s never mentioned when you’re pregnant is that, from the time your child is born, guilt envelops you! And that’s so for everyone, even if your kids are in perfect health.

I think you have to get to a point where you tell yourself that you’re doing your best.

If you’re really worried about splitting your time with the kids, how about setting aside some quality time once a week with your older girl, while your husband looks after your other daughter? That might help all of you. But as life can be so busy with kids, it probably won’t happen unless you make a point of scheduling it.

Also, don’t be scared to ask for help from friends and family. Being a mum is the hardest job in the world with healthy kids – and you have extra challenges.

People will understand that and want to help, even if it’s just babysitting so you get a few hours off to de-stress.

And you mustn’t feel guilty about taking time out – it’s beneficial for the kids because it’s helping you.

Guilt is a tough one – it’s more a question of learning to live with it than banishing it entirely.

My kids are 26, 22 and 14 and, at some point every day, I feel guilty about one over something!

You sound like a great mum – you need to pat yourself on the back more.

More of our agony aunt Coleen Nolan’s advice on your sex, family, health and relationship problems


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