What Parents Can/Can't Do For Siblings
by Rex Dickens in the NAMI / SAC Resource

What Parents Can't Do:

* Can't take away the fact that mental illness impacts other siblings.
* Can't lesson the impact by not talking about it.
* Can't shield the siblings from their owns feelings about it.
* Can't determine the coping style individual siblings may adopt.
* Can't do the grieving (mourning) process for them. This involves denial,
sadness, anger and finally acceptance. This process everyone must do in
their individual way, and at their own pace.
* Can't make them seek help if they need the denial stage.
* Can't take away peer and societal stigma.
* Can't expect they will not have a variety of negative emotions such as
guilt, fears, grief, resentment and jealousy

What Parents Can Do:

* Be aware that all family members are profoundly affected.
* Be aware of the coping stance the sibling will adopt, i.e. estrangement,
enmeshment, etc.
* Talk about your feelings and encourage them to do the same.
* Learn about the illness to lower family anxiety.
* Do not make the ill member the axis in which the family revolves. This is
as detrimental to the ill person as it is to the other family members.
* Seek to improve the mental health system so that after-care options are
* Read some sibling articles and books to have a background understanding of
the sibling experience.

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