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Parenting When You Have Fibromyalgia

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It is hard enough taking care of yourself and your relationship with your spouse when you have fibromyalgia. But sometimes it breaks women's hearts as they worry about the effect on their children. The good news? It's been my experience that fibromyalgia in parents usually results in their children feeling even more loved and closer to their parents!

You may wonder how you can explain having fibromyalgia to your children without scaring them. Simply let your children know that you have a problem, but that it isn't dangerous. It just leaves you feeling tired and achy sometimes — kind of like when you have a cold or flu. So you can't do everything you'd like to do.

Feeling like they can't be there for their children is one of the hardest things many women with fibromyalgia fear. What I have found in treating thousands of women is that the fibromyalgia actually results in their having a closer and very loving relationship with their kids — because the Mom actually spends more time at home with the children, in settings that are warm and close such as reading a book or watching a movie with them. Because of this, I've seen that the children of women with fibromyalgia usually feel very close to their Moms, feel very loved, and do just fine!

As for your duties to your family, it's important to remember that if you don't take care of yourself first, you won't have anything left to give anyone else. Your body has a "use it or lose it" approach to efficiency. Because of this, if you don't stay somewhat active, you'll decondition and lose function. Do a walking program, but only to a level that feels comfortable. Use a pedometer to monitor your progress. Begin at a level that is comfortable (even if it's walking just a minute or 2) and aim over time to get to the 10,000 steps a day level.

In addition, Yoga and Tai Chi have both been shown to be very effective in helping to decrease pain and increase function in women with fibromyalgia — so these are also highly recommended. For the few of you that are too ill to even walk for a few minutes a day, starting with exercises in a warm water pool, which increases your buoyancy, can increase conditioning to where you can advance to walking and then more active exercises.

Taking care of yourself is a key to having energy for your kids. Having 5 children myself, I'll offer one more thought. If your children know that they are unconditionally loved, they will do just fine — no matter what! And your ability to love your children is something the fibromyalgia can't take away.

Love & blessings,

Dr. T