I am a parent with chronic pain.
The reality of those words strikes a nerve. Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia can often be debilitating and draining. The pain makes it hard to stand for long periods of time, be active, and spend quality time with my children. Sometimes, something as simple as cooking dinner takes everything I’ve got.
It has been a long week, and at the moment I am struggling with low energy levels and pain so bad that I can barely stand. Dinner was delivered, as it seems to be most nights lately. And I’m frustrated because there is overwhelming research that is not in favor of parents like me.
Most studies about parents with chronic pain suggest their children are adversely affected, including one published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing. That study was painful to read, because it found that children whose parents live with chronic pain are more likely to have adjustment and behavioral problems.
They’re also more likely to have pain complaints of their own. A 2013 study in JAMA Pediatrics looked at 8,200 teens and found that those who had parents with chronic pain were at a greater risk of having chronic pain themselves.
The researchers do not know, however, if it is caused by genetics, learned behavior, sympathy or other factors. Whatever the reason, these children experience actual physical pain.