Family: Living and leaving the nest

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We all have fights with our siblings, we all say things we don’t mean. But, in the heat of an argument  when your brother or sister yells, “you always get your own way, you’re the favourite… just because of your stupid heart!” it can really hit home.

Are you overprotected?

Parents of children with a complicated chronic disease, like congenital heart disease, can often be overprotective. It can sometimes feel like they are wrapping you in cotton wool and won’t let you take any decisions or responsibility for yourself, which can be a bit suffocating.

If you want to have more say in things – particularly when it comes to your heart – why not suggest to your parents that you want to see the doctor alone? This way you can learn about your diagnosis so that you can discuss it with your family.

Brothers and sisters

If you have brothers and sisters without a chronic disease they can sometimes feel that they have been forgotten about. Having a sick child can take up a lot of your parents time and attention, especially in connection with surgery. It may seem to them that because you have a congenital heart defect you are the focus of the family and they are being ignored.

Why we need our family

Being a teenager with a severe disease can make it twice as hard to grow up to be an independent person. You might feel that you just want to ignore your heart defect, stop with the medication and just be like everybody else. When you are in a mood like this it’s good to have the support of your family.

Support for your family

If you find it hard to talk about things with your family though, you could suggest that you all go to a family therapist. Together with the therapist you and your family can talk about the situation. You don’t all have to be present at each session, in fact it sometimes works better to meet in different combinations – you and your parents, you, one parent and your brothers and sisters, whatever you think is best. Together you can create a place for open and honest communication in the family.

Author(s): Ulrika Hallin
Last updated: 2010-10-07

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