Please, Tell Your Kids About Your MS

My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) roughly a year after I was born.

She didn’t necessarily hide it, but I didn’t know about it until I was five or six. To be honest, we don’t remember how the topic came up, but she said I may have asked what her shots were for. One action that stuck with me was the moment my mom handed me a pamphlet about Multiple Sclerosis that she printed off the MS Society website (https://www.nationalmssociety.org). Since I have always preferred to read and research various subjects, having the physical material to reference made it easier for me to process the conversation. What followed was an open discussion where I could ask her questions and she would answer to the best of her ability. Thankfully, my mom was always very encouraging when it came to education and medical topics were no different. She talked with me about MS in a way that was open and honest which helped me understand what her life was like.

Image result for MS Awareness

Because of her honesty, I knew why my mom was tired or why she couldn’t keep up with me at times. I don’t doubt that as a kid I tried to push her past her limits, but I was knowledgeable about the ‘why’ behind her “no”. 

I believe that letting your kids know about your MS will only help strengthen your relationship with your child. You depend on each other as a family and they should know what MS is and how it impacts your life. (This is also useful information to know when it comes to medical family history). In addition to understanding what you go through, it will help improve their views of others with chronic illnesses or disabilities and help foster greater accessibility and understanding for the future.

I’ve seen my mom have good days and I’ve witnessed her struggle to make it through the bad ones. I can honestly say that the way I’ve handled my illnesses are a direct result of seeing how my mom went on living her life with her own chronic health conditions. 

Jordyn with his Mom. She is wearing a shirt that says Made Strong with the M and the S in orange to support MS.

I sat down with Kelly (my awesome Mom) and asked her what her thoughts were. 

Kelly explained that it’s important to tell your kids “so that kids can grasp the concept of being able to think about others”. After all, many important life lessons start at home. Having a child understand illness supports the development of empathy and normalizes those with chronic conditions. 

She went on to emphasize the importance of kids seeing a role model who can overcome challenges. “Sometimes life is all about how you handle “plan B” and I think that’s a valuable lesson for kids to see.”

I want all the parents out there to know that it doesn’t make you a bad parent if you struggle or have days that are not so great. Allowing your kids see this and how you overcome or cope with your hardships can help set them up for success in the future! “They can see that maybe their parents have, in my case, occasional physical weakness, but strengths in character and the implementation of coping skills are probably the most important tools they can learn to use from you. This is life and sometimes things don’t go as you expect, but as a parent you cant throw yourself down on the floor to kick and scream about it. You deal with it and try to make the best of it.” 

I want to clarify that yes, my mom has some rough days every now and then. She gives herself a moment to have a cry and then it’s time to get back up and try again. Watching her pick herself up over and over again, while also caring for her emotional health, provided me with a strong and healthy point of reference to model my own behaviors after.

The MS Society has some amazing links, materials, discussions and groups. The home page has a link to MS Navigators who can help connect you to local resources as well. 

Please consider opening up to your child about your MS. 

With love, 

A mother and child who are MS Strong

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