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Gwynn Cassidy

Former Executive director at The Global SHE Initiative

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Parenting When In Pain


I bumped into an old friend this weekend who absolutely beamed with pride as he introduced me to his 3-month old daughter. The proud papa was even sporting a T-shirt that read " Parenting—The Hardest Job You'll Ever Love,"' which sums it all up quite well—particularly for new parents. (Note to new parents everywhere: It gets easier!)

The T-shirt got me thinking…with respect to parenting, what makes some days tougher than others? I feel I'm at my best as a mom when I'm energized, focused, and enthusiastic, so, for me, the tough times are when I'm experiencing pain. Since becoming a mom, there have been a handful of times when I've either injured myself, felt under the weather or was otherwise in pain, and it was during those brief periods that I found parenting the most challenging.

As I recognized the difference between my happy days and my hard ones, it made the results of a recent survey on parenting while in pain all the more interesting and real to me.

According to the survey by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) and the American Pain Foundation (APF

  • 68 percent of respondents living with (diagnosed or undiagnosed) fibromyalgia or another chronic pain condition agree that their pain limits their ability to care for their family.
  • Of the more than 650 respondents who have children under the age of 18, 95 percent reported their pain condition affects at least one of their parenting duties.
  • Of those whose condition significantly impacted the decision to have children (about 450 respondents), their top three concerns were:
    1. Caring for an active child (62 percent)
    2. Physically going through childbirth (about 53 percent)
    3. Further lack of sleep with a baby (about 49 percent)

Being a parent isn't always easy. Parenting can be physically demanding and emotionally draining for everyone. Now that I understand and appreciate the extra challenges friends and family members living with chronic pain may face as parents, I want to know how I can best lend a hand, but I'm unsure if they want or will accept my help or what specifically I can do to really ease their burden.

If you're a parent experiencing chronic pain, make it easier for your friends and family to help. Talk to them. Ask for help and be specific. If you need help with the laundry, someone to play with your kids, prepare a few meals in advance—ask.

  • If you or someone you know is living with chronic pain, visit our Chronic Pain Center for expert advice, real women stories, resources and more.
  • To learn more about fibromyalgia, visit our Conditions & Treatments area for information on how it's diagnosed, treatments, questions to ask your health care professional and more.
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