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Afraid to be home alone with my kids


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I feel so idiotic even posting this... anyway I have a 3-year-old daughter and an 8-month-old daughter and have suffered from postpartum depression with both of them, which has now evolved into major depressive disorder. I also have GAD w/panic. I'm in a bind in that I am terrified to be home alone with my kids and it is preventing my ex-husband from getting a job and getting out! My pdoc recommended parenting classes.... but I'm not a bad mom (I don't think... although I'm crazy so maybe I am?) but I don't want to go to them... I don't want people to think I'm a bad mom. My biggest fear is my kids getting hurt under my watch and then being judged for being a bad mom... ridiculous, I know... my mom was awful to me (she isn't alive anymore) and so I think this is the root of it... any advice?

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Let's look at this from a cognitive, thinking point of view, and examine the evidence firstly. If your pdoc and you have talked about your issues, and he knows your medical history and thought that you were a danger to your kids or unable to parent, I am sure that he would be bound by law to get intervention from state services. It sounds to me like he has simply recommended parenting classes, not because you are a bad mom, but because it would reassure you that you will able to care for and protect your children. People who go to parenting classes are there because of their concern for and dedication to their children. They are not bad parents. The reality is that no parent gets a manual when they conceive a child, everyone had to learn. And those are willing to go to a class are actually some of the better parents, because they are so motivated to be successful that they attend. So if I was in a parenting class and you walked in, I would not think 'what a bad mom she must be to be coming in here.' I'd think 'what a brave and sorted out mom she must be to come here.'

I think what is happening is natural and understandable, you have all the anxiety about being a mom that any woman would, plus your depression and anxiety issues are starting to cause you to ruminate on fears until you feel that is it inevitable that, left alone, something will happen to your kids, and it will be your fault. You could test this idea out. Your husband could give you half an hour with the kids while in another part of the house, or in the garden. If nothing happens, you begin to have evidence that this is not a true idea. It is a myth, there is a grain of truth, any parent could have something accidental and beyond their control happen to their child, but it is statistically very, very low, and a conscientious parent like you is the best insurance against that. You could progress to him going out for an hour with a cell phone that you can ring him on if you start to panic. The more chance you have to spend time with your children unsupervised, the more you will begin to see that you can cope and that nothing is likely to happen. You could also be proactive. Have you installed child gates, locks on cupboards, tidied medicines and bleach away, and done things to prevent common household accidents? That might be another way of reassuring yourself. Have you ever had a pet? How did caring for that go? Did you have a favourite toy as a child that you looked after? Have you ever babysat? I am sure there is yet more evidence that you are reliable and able to take care of people.

If your ex is not able to work, he will be unhappy, and you will all be financially worse off, and your kids might suffer for it. If you can gradually teach yourself to tolerate the fear that comes along with being left to care for them, then you will conquer this. I think the parenting classes are a great idea. You will see that this fear is not yours alone, and you will get a realistic idea of what you can do to protect your children, and know that the risks to them are very low. If you think that your fear is linked to your mother, then some therapy to explore that issue might also be helpful.

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Wow that's some amazing insight!!! Thank you for posting this. It's a GREAT idea to have my husband go to the other area of the house while I am alone with the kids. I never would have thought of it (duh) and to keep the area safe is a good one too. Parenting classes may not be such a bad idea either. I appreciate your great insight. ;)

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Yes, karuna is very wise. Take baby steps & you'll most likely discover that your fears were overblown in your mind. I worry about everything, but reality is never as bad as my brain would have me believe. Parenting classes (or mommy & me classes such as swimming or gymboree(spelling?) would boast your confidence once you are more secure. Some hospitals and/or health centers have support groups such as depression after delivery or emotions anonymous. They may be worth looking into, a lot of women have the same issues. You may meet some good friends too! Good luck and post whenever you need support, the people here are great!

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I have anxiety as well as depression and I find myself petrified to be alone at home with my kids. You are not alone in how you feel.

Thank you for posting and making me feel less insane about this issue. I'm glad I'm not alone. ;)

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