How do kids feel about MS?

Every child is different. But there are a few feelings that children of MS parents often go through.

Children are often worried about their parent's health, how the family's life will change, and the effects that their parent's MS may have on their own future. Common fears and questions include:

  • Is my parent going to die?
  • Will my parent be in pain?
  • Will my parent be unable to walk?
  • Can I catch MS from my parent?
  • Will I be more likely to get MS because my parent has it?
  • What will happen to my future? Will we have enough money? Will I be able to leave home and go to college or university?

Another very natural reaction is anger. When they learn that their parent has MS, children may feel that things aren't fair and be angry that their parent is sick. They may also resent the extra work and responsibility that they now have because of their parent's illness. They may also be angry when their family's focus has turned from them to the parent with MS.

Children are often sad to see their parent upset, in pain, or having trouble with their normal activities. They may feel sad that they cannot make the disease go away. They may also feel neglected because the parent with MS may not be able to spend as much time with them.

Parents with MS may need a wheelchair, scooter, or cane to get around. They may be tired or unable to participate in the child's activities when other parents can. The physical symptoms of MS, such as poor coordination and slurred speech, may be mistaken for drunkenness by passers-by. Strangers may stare or ask inappropriate questions. All of these things can be upsetting or embarrassing to children.

Children of MS parents may feel guilty about a number of things, including their own good health. They may also feel guilty about causing stress for their sick parent, resenting their parent's MS, being embarrassed by their parent's MS, wanting time for themselves and their interests, and leaving their parent behind when they start their own adult life away from home.

This is not a complete list of all feelings that children may have when their parent has MS. And not all children may have all of these feelings. But these feelings are often a normal part of dealing with a parent's MS.

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