The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Do Moms with Sick Kids Remember to Care for Themselves?

"First, put the face mask on yourself, then put the other one on your child."

Every mother who has ever flown on an airplane with her child has heard these simple instructions and acknowledged, that yes, that makes sense. How can we take care of our baby (baby: any age of a child in which the child is our own) if we are passed out on the floor of the plane? Sadkid But when it comes right down to it, most of us mothers who have a child with any kind of medical condition, would gladly give up our health (or even allow our own illness to get worse) if our baby could just "be okay."

As a mom of a son who ate his first bite of solid food (a popcorn kernal) two days ago– after a 5-month phobia of eating following a small choking incident –I can tell you that I have bargained with God on more than one occasion. "Just let him eat and I will…" "Just let him eat and I won’t complain the next time…"

Even my own mother has gotten in on this, telling God she’d surrender some of her own health and take on more diabetes complications if only her grandson would eat. As mothers we are wise in the way of knowing what is "best" and most logical.

But as MOTHERS we are protectors and will lay down our life, our health, our money, our time– whatever it takes to give our child one more fighting chance to have health, to have joy, to not need to be in a world filled with doctors and needles, deep discussions and medication bottles

So when I saw this article, it jumped out at me.  The only thing that seemed odd to me is that there seemed to be little change in the health of the fathers. In a sarcastic voice Ican say, "No surprise there!" but in my home I am blessed that my son’s situation has had an emotional impact on my husband too and I’ve seen him struggle alongside me as we have been from one doctor to another.

Course, he’s made it to his doctor’s appointments, his dentist appointments, and work. It took me 3 more months to get into see my rheumatologist because I was so busy driving Josh to therapies I didn’t have the time or energy to get to  my own doctor, especially knowing there is nothing left she can do for me until I agree to surgery on the body part [joint]of my choosing. And that mammogram? It’s my first one, so I’ve had no trouble putting that off. Or the dentist. . . or the eye doctor. It just all seems so minor when they are talking about feeding tubes and your child’s little body. So maybe the article is correct. Men emotionally may struggle with it all, but they are still able to "take care of business."

Us women are either exhausted, distraught, or unable to fit our own doctors appointments into the schedule.

PS: For those of you who have prayed for us, thank you! Today was a significant day as Josh ate 4 tiny bites of a french fry! Praise the Lord! It was the HAPPIEST Happy Meal I’ve ever bought in my life!


Mothers of chronically ill children report poorer health

November 22, 2006 | 12:20 PM ET CBC News

Mothers who care for a child with a disability or chronic condition are more likely to say they are in poor health than are the fathers, particularly if the child’s condition persists, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

The report used Statistics Canada data tracking families from 1994 to 2000 to compare parents of healthy children aged six to 15 to those whose children are chronically sick or disabled.

Of the mothers in the study who were caring for a sick child, nearly 11 per cent said they were in poor or fair health, compared to just over five per cent of the mothers whose families were otherwise the same but did not have an unhealthy child, the researchers found.

Mothers with disabled or chronically sick children were 1.5 times as likely to report poor or fair health as were mothers with healthy children who reported smoking daily.

No difference was observed among fathers.

"We think that it might be the nature of the responsibilities that the mother has that’s stressful for her and leads to lower health," said the study’s lead author, Shelly Phipps, an economics professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Mothers may be dealing with the stress of caring for an ill or disabled child, possibly along with paid work, Phipps said, while fathers often have the responsibility of maintaining a breadwinner role.

The results suggest parents should be offered respite and compassionate care, including time off with compensation, the researchers said. That way, fathers could help care for the children without losing family income.

"We think that our results suggest that we need to enhance the supports that are available for mothers and fathers, but particularly mothers … obviously for the well-being of the mothers, but also for the well-being of the children," Phipps told CBC Newsworld on Wednesday.

"If the mothers end up burnt out and exhausted and with lower health status then they won’t be able to maintain their caregiver role."

The study focused on couples who remained married throughout the study period.


  Jen wrote @

Hi, I am a single mother of two childern. My son is 9 years old and has had chronic health problems since he was 10 months old. Since I’ve been divorced from their father he has been diagnosed with a rare disorder. He misses about two days of school a week and has to leave eary about two to three days. It is extremely hard on him and it has continued to worsen. I agree with the article. I am not able to work and am struggling to keep our home and our heads above water. I also was diagnosed with Lupus last year. I do know my health has worsened because I spend all my time taking care of him and his sister and making sure she never feels left out. But I know every morning I have to keep going and make sure they can’t see any stress or ware on me because I am the only solid person in their lives. It is hard but I find strenght somehow and I do believe prayers from family, friends and our church are what keeps us going and keeps us happy. Thank you so this article.

  Jen wrote @

I want to comment about Mothers of sick children being less healthy. I blieve it is very true.
My son has had health problems for 8 years…he is nine. I divorced from his Dad over two years ago. My son has chronic headaches. He can’t make a full day at school and misses alot aswell. His headaches are so bad he has told me he wants to die so he won’t hurt anymore. It is hard for me to watch him like that, and just as hard for his younger sister. Since he’s gone back to school, it is impossible for me to work because there is no one to help get him from school or take care of him. I am doing everything I can to keep our house and try to pay bills.
Last year I was diagnosed with Lupus. There are good days and bad. But either way I have to put how I am feeling on the back burner and do what I have to for my kids. On my sons good days, we spend as much time doing fun things as possible.
It is hard to think of your own health when you have a child that needs you to concentrate on theirs.
My children are my life and I do whatever I have to, in order for them to be happy. sickness or not.

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