Caring for a Child with a Chronic Illness: Tips for Divorced Parents

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Divorce is difficult for children no matter the situation. Their lives change dramatically, and they fear that they wouldn’t see one of their parents as often. They worry about their parents meeting other people and starting new families. They also have to deal with the loss of their family structure.

The dissolution of a marriage can be especially hard when there is a child with a chronic illness in the mix. It’s important to know how to make it less difficult for your child and yourself, by making things easier on both parents.

When divorced parents are caring for a child with a chronic illness, it can be difficult to know what to do. Here are some tips to help make things a little easier:

Sit Down and Talk

It’s important to keep communication open and honest so that you can support each other. Sit down together to talk about how your child is doing. Avoid criticizing one another or blaming the other parent for things not working out. Remind yourself that even though you’re no longer married, you’re both adults and you are still capable of putting the well-being of your kids first.

Those still in the process of divorcing should discuss custody and shared parenting responsibilities. This will involve your respective divorce attorneys. The courts usually presume that both parents should have equal rights to the child. However, it’s still possible for one parent to get increased custody as long as there is a good reason.

Seek Out Support From Family and Friends

Caring for an ill child will be difficult, especially if you are still reeling from the divorce. But you will always have your family and friends willing to provide support. They may not be able to care for the child, but they can take your children out or invite them over. They can take shifts at the hospital to allow you to rest, or cheer your child whenever they feel unwell or sad from the dissolution of their parent’s marriage.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about asking for help from family and friends. Most people want to help, but they aren’t sure if it is okay with you. You can get more done if you have help around the house.

Take Care of Yourself

It’s important to make time for yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed. You have people helping you go through the situation, so you should feel free to ask for help in your daily life. You, too, need to rest and attend to your own needs.

Consider seeing a therapist. Having a sick child and going through a divorce are both emotionally difficult. A mental health professional can help you navigate the situation and deal with your feelings. They can advise on how to make things easier for you and your child. You can also ask about the best ways to talk about sensitive issues with your child, like what is happening at home and why you’re no longer together.

You also should do things that you enjoy every once in a while. This includes reading a book, seeing a movie or television show, knitting, or playing video games. Don’t feel guilty if you need to take a day off from your duties as a parent. Caregivers need downtime too.

Be Wary of Blended Families

It’s natural for you to feel jealous when your child is spending time with the other parent and their new family. This can be especially difficult if it’s your first holiday or birthday since the divorce, or if you are forced to spend time with their step-family.

However, having a child with a chronic illness is difficult enough. You don’t want to add another source of tension for your child by resenting their other family. They have been going through enough already, so do what you can to keep things calm and peaceful in the house when they are around.


When possible, try having a sit-down talk with the other parent. You can agree to set aside your negative feelings and focus on what’s best for your child during their time with you. This might mean limiting the amount of conversation regarding topics like step-parents if that is too painful for either of you at the moment.

Dealing with your child’s illness may be more challenging when you are dealing with the divorce, but it doesn’t mean that it’ll be harder than if there wasn’t a chronic illness involved. You can make things easier on yourself and your ex-spouse by talking about how you’re feeling and asking for help when needed. Consent is still required in most cases of parenting plans involving high conflict divorces.

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