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Should Single Parents...

Should Single Parents Worry About Bad Genes?

Many single parents have come to us with a big worry: will their children be doomed by their ex’s bad genes?

One single mom, for example, was married to an alcoholic who was also bipolar. Another single dad was married to a woman who had severe depression and couldn’t parent.

They’ve asked us: “Is it only a matter of time before our kids’ lives are in ruins, too?”

Many of us have kids whose genetic histories are marked by addiction and mental illness. We understand that you worry that your best parenting efforts may never overcome this “bad genes” time bomb.

Please know—this is not so!

Your kids will write their own destinies with our guidance and support. Consistent loving parenting always has a positive effect regardless of “bad genes.”

First, it’s important to tell your kids that the “other parent” has a disease called addiction. Kids need this information to make sense of their own life story.

Reassure your kids that they can make different choices in their own lives. When your kids show typical behaviors—like tantrums and meltdowns—remember that this is developmental and not necessarily a sign of what’s to come.

When you consider your kids’ medical history, credibility is key. An off-handed remark by a relative or friend or your own conclusions based on personal experience may simply not be accurate. Unless a psychiatrist or psychologist makes a diagnosis after careful evaluation, you may be worrying needlessly—or feeling anxious about the wrong problem.

Here’s what we suggest: set your own example of sober living and moderation. This is a powerful antidote against whatever genetic predispositions your kids may possess. 

Tell us: Have you worried about your kids’ “bad genes”? 

Originally published on Single Mommy Hood

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