Every parent knows that no child comes with an instruction manual. Parenting when you have Dissociative Identity Disorder can add even more unique challenges to parenting. So what can you and your alters do if you have children? This article will walk you through some overall parenting tips to help you when you have Dissociative Identity Disorder. Let’s jump right in!
WARNING AND DISCLAIMER
Because of the nature of D.I.D., it’s possible that something in this article could be triggering to your system. Please use caution and your best judgement when reading this article. Safety first!
Disclaimer: We are not doctors, therapists, or mental health professionals. We’re just a bunch of alters that are speaking from personal experience to help other systems live their best lives.
Agree On The Basics
The first and most important thing to help parenting with DID is to have a system meeting to agree on the basics. By having a big group meeting about the essential things, every alter will know exactly what they need to do when they’re fronting with the body’s children. This will eliminate so much chaos and frustration inside of the system.
Here are some sample basics to discuss at the team meeting:
Creating an overall plan for basics like these is the foundation for your system being a consistent parent for your child. This will help to give your child a firm sense of security while helping your system to feel more stable, too.
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
While just about every child benefits from having the stability of a schedule, parenting with DID makes a schedule extra important. Creating a framework for a schedule will make it so that, no matter when a switch occurs, your system will know what comes next. This will create some much needed predictability for your system and your child.
Pro tip: Having some form of predictability is necessary for all children but it’s especially important for younger children. If your system has young children, please pay extra attention to this step!
Does your schedule have to be exact and perfect down to the millisecond? No! Just having some kind of general framework can be very helpful for both your system and your child. To help with this, it can be very beneficial to have a general daily schedule and to have a daily theme for the days of the week. Every family, child, and system are highly unique so tailor these to your lifestyle. Here is a sample of a week (with a young child at home) to get you started:
Here is an example of a daily schedule (with a young child at home) to get you started:
Whatever schedule and themes your system comes up with, it doesn’t need to be exact. Just having a ballpark idea of what needs to happen and when will give you and your system so much clarity. This way, no matter who jumps to the front, the system as a whole will always have a plan in place.
Our household is currently made up of two systems and a young child. As you can imagine, things can get crazy pretty fast! That is why, everyday, from about 1 pm to 3 pm, we have “Me Time”.
So what is Me Time? It’s a magical and wonderful time of day where everybody gets a break from as much external stimuli as possible. During this time, each person focuses on relaxing and restorative activities that they can do 1) by themselves and 2) quietly. Some great examples of Me Time activities are:
We noticed a massive attitude and health improvement in both our child and ourselves since introducing Me Time. While it was difficult for us to get it started, we really can’t imagine ever ending it. The benefits are just so obvious.
Because of this, our household is religious about maintaining and protecting Me Time. While we’re not able to have Me Time every single day (life does happen, after all!), we are always quick to get the habit started again. Our lives are just that much better when we have some Me Time in it!
Pro tip: Before having Me Time, our house had Quiet Time which was essentially just our child’s nap time and our time to run around frantically doing whatever. When our child was transitioning away from naps, the big sell for Me Time was that she would get a break from *us*.
Lots of parents know that they need breaks from their kids but they don’t often realize that your kids need a break from you, too. It’s not uncommon for a child to feel like the parent needs them (not the other way around). Talk about stressful!
We said things like “You get to play by yourself” and “You don’t have to talk to me right now; this is your break time”. As funny as it may sound, giving your child permission to leave you alone is very relieving for them and will make them more eager to skip off to their Me Time.
Set Up Centers
Juggling being a parent while you have DID can be interesting enough without wondering where your wallet has wandered off to. The simple fact of the matter is that losing your things can add unnecessary stress to your day that can impact how your system parents.
Our solution? Having “centers” around the house that every alter knows about. The idea is that these centers will have everything your system needs to be their best selves; all in a convenient and easy to maintain location. Below are some examples of centers to consider adding to your home. Each of these has helped our systems to feel more on top of things!
Pro tip: For all of these centers, shallow baskets and hooks are your friend! Things will be easy to put away and easy to find. Win win!
Pro tip: When creating centers, it’s important to make things easy to put away. Your system will hung things down when they need them; putting things away is the tricky part!
This one is typically located right next to your front door and it holds everything that you need to get you out of the door in one piece. If we had to pick just one, we’d say that the command center is the most important center for systems to set up. The idea is that you want for your system to effortlessly leave the house and to easily set things back up when they get home.
Pro tip: Having an extra set of keys can be a real lifesaver!
Whether your child goes to school or stays at home, having a set location for their morning needs makes life so much easier! Every child and family situation is unique so think this one over with your family and headmates. The goal for this center is that you and your child will be able to start their morning off on the right foot. Here are some ideas for things to include in your morning center:
Pro tip: In a perfect world, your system would be able to make lunches the night before. Even if your system normally does that, having things set up in the morning center will make it a lifesaver if you’re ever running behind!
Have you ever asked yourself why people store clothes in their bedrooms? It’s kind of ridiculous when you think about it. It’s so inefficient that it’s no wonder so many people hate doing laundry! For your household, consider creating a clothing center. This would be a single location where a majority of the clothing for the household is stored. (Ideally right next to the laundry room!)
This will make doing laundry so, so much faster and it will make dressing your children much easier. This is especially helpful if you have more than one child. If your system has triggers sprinkled throughout the house, this trick will minimize switches throughout the day. This means your system will have less dissociative symptoms to deal with so your system can focus on more important things.
Pro tip: Even if you’re unable to set up a clothing center, create two or three clothing bundles for each of your children and set them aside for emergencies. Include sock, underwear and any other accessories with each bundle so you’re ready no matter what. This little trick has saved us so many times and it just takes a minute!
Get Your Child Involved
We’re big believers that you should improve the things that you can and prepare for the things that you can’t. Depending on where your system is in their journey towards becoming a loving system, there may be things that your system just can’t realistically do right now. It’s ok to acknowledge that you can’t do it all at this moment.
That doesn’t make you a mean person or a failure as a parent. It’s ok to lovingly pass on child-appropriate responsibilities to your child. And there are fun and engaging ways to do it! And do you want to know the best part? Your child and your system will simultaneously learn important life skills that will improve both of your lives in the long and short term. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Pro tip: While some in your system may experience embarrassment at the side effects of being a system, please try to remember that your child doesn’t see you that way. They love you the way that you are and they know that you’re doing the best that you can.
Consult Your Littles
If your system has internal children near your external child’s age, you’ve got a gold mine on your hands! While your littles and your child undoubtedly have different personalities and etc, they’re developmentally similar. What this means is that your littles can give your system very valuable insight into how your child may think or feel about some things. How cool is that?
Like we said, your child and your littles are no doubt very different from each other in some ways. But you can use questions like these to get a strong pulse on your child’s intellectual abilities, their reasoning, and their possible feelings. While we think it’s a fantastic idea to ask your child these kinds of questions, you’re able to feel your little’s responses and see exactly how they reach their conclusion. This kind of insight will propel your parenting relationship to the next level!
Now that your system knows how to parent with DID, where can you go from here? Click here read this article about how to set up your home for DID. Stay tuned for more articles about parenting, relationships, and just all around thriving as a system!