Being a Schizophrenic Parent

private Community Member November 21, 2007
  • Hi, I am currently learning more and more on schizophrenia. I have a questions for some of the individuals living with schizophrenia and caregivers of schizophrenia. My daughter's biological father was dx with the illness in 2005. He has not been in her life since she was 2 and she is now 10. She has no clue who he is and according to associates that know him, they say that he is not taking his medications on a regular basis and also doing illegal drugs, arguing with imaginary people. His parents whom he lives with are asking for visitation. (they have not seen her since she was 2 as well) I can not lie, I do  not want this because she has built a very father-daughter relationship with my husband who has raised her since she was 3. We are currently fighting this in court. (Trying to terminate his parental rights and let my husband officially adopt her) Wouldn't it be unsafe for him being a deadbeat dad and a paranoid schizophrenic who does not take his medication and does illegal drugs to be around my daughter who is a stranger to him as he is to her?
10 Comments
  • Robin Cunningham
    Health Guide
    Nov. 24, 2007

     

    Hi Private:

     

    Normally I would suggest that parents with schizophrenia should have visitations rights with their children.

     

    In your case, however, I think the welfare of your child should come first.  If she has found a father in your husband and doesn't really know anything about her biological father, I would be reluctant to allow him...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

     

    Hi Private:

     

    Normally I would suggest that parents with schizophrenia should have visitations rights with their children.

     

    In your case, however, I think the welfare of your child should come first.  If she has found a father in your husband and doesn't really know anything about her biological father, I would be reluctant to allow him or his parents to interject their presence into her childhood.  If he's taking illegal drugs and not his meds, I don't see how he could possibly be a positive for your daughter. 

     

    His parents might not have an adverse effect, UNLESS THEY INSIST ON TELLING HER ABOUT HER BIOLOGICAL FATHER.  My guess is, however, that's exactly what they will want to do.

     

    I think you should persist.  Don't let force their way into your daughter's life.

     

    Be prepared thought. If they ever do get access to your daughter she might react badly to the fact that you have not told her the whole story of her origins.  Still, I would try to keep them out.

     

    Robin

        

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      Nov. 24, 2007
      Thanks Robin for your comment. :) In my defense, my daughter does know that my husband is not her "biological father" and I have never told her biological father that he could not "be a father" he chose not to be one. I was just curious are you an expert (because you definetly sound like one) or were you ever dx with sz or a family member...
      RHMLucky777
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      Thanks Robin for your comment. :) In my defense, my daughter does know that my husband is not her "biological father" and I have never told her biological father that he could not "be a father" he chose not to be one. I was just curious are you an expert (because you definetly sound like one) or were you ever dx with sz or a family member of someone who was dx with sz? Thanks again.
    • Christina Bruni
      Health Guide
      Nov. 29, 2007

      Hello anonymous,

       

      I've posted a comment with my gut feelings about what's going on. 

       

      Let me know if you have any questions.

       

      Best wishes,

      Chris

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      Dec. 20, 2007
      I am going through the same thing but I have two children. One is not even his daughter. He is apparently complaint with his meds but he still gets paranoid and very dillusional, he is just very good at convincing others he is well.   One of them came home with marks saying that daddy did it.  My eldest who is 9 says that he is scared of him killing me and...
      RHMLucky777
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      I am going through the same thing but I have two children. One is not even his daughter. He is apparently complaint with his meds but he still gets paranoid and very dillusional, he is just very good at convincing others he is well.   One of them came home with marks saying that daddy did it.  My eldest who is 9 says that he is scared of him killing me and hurting him.  The courts are going overboard about being "pro Father" that there is nothing we can do here.  I hope your childrens situation is much better than ours. 
  • Gracer
    Feb. 27, 2014

    My parents divorced when I was 13 because our family could not handle my dad’s going on and off his medication and now that I am 35 he still does it. I know for a fact that it is very common that people with this disease often don’t stay on their medications; it’s practically part of the disease and therefor it is like a symptom. When my mom...

    RHMLucky777

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    My parents divorced when I was 13 because our family could not handle my dad’s going on and off his medication and now that I am 35 he still does it. I know for a fact that it is very common that people with this disease often don’t stay on their medications; it’s practically part of the disease and therefor it is like a symptom. When my mom and dad got divorce my mom said to me and my brother that it our responsibility to maintain a relationship with our dad, she never tried to force us to go see him. He didn’t live far away only a couple blocks so we visited him pretty often actually. Being that I grew up around him I knew when to stay away.

     

    I remember always being thankful that they got divorced and even having nightmares that they got back together all the way into my 20s. However My dad is a really sweat and kind of a cute little crazy guy and I am thankful to know him.

     

     I like to think of myself as an understanding type of person and now that I have had my own kids and I see the day to day struggles me being mentally sound I can sympathize with his mistakes and know that it must have been so much harder for him. I believe he gave it his best just like I do every day. My dad was never able to keep a job but he worked lots of odd jobs for people around the neighborhood and through these jobs he taught me and my brother the value of hard work. My dad made us work every day at home and on his odd jobs and no whining was allowed, the sooner we got it done we went home and no allowance! My brother and I always end up as top employees everywhere we go, where there is hard work to be done.  Just one example of some of the values that this current generation of parents are struggling to impart to their own kids, he did a good job.

     

    My dad was also a lot of fun and used to do lots of cool things with us. I remember he would wake me up at 2am so we could walk to 711 and get treats, so fun! Normal parents don’t do that!

     

    My dad was also verbally abusive he was delusional and he believed my brother was the antichrist and that I was sleeping around the neighborhood at a very young age.

     

    There is such a thing as being too disabled to be able to do a certain job. For paranoid schizophrenics parenting may be one of them. I certainly feel angry sometimes that nobody stepped in sooner and caused my parents to separate sooner. I am just as frustrated and sad for my dad as he has missed out on so much. He has missed out on being able to provide for a family, on being able to be a father, on being able to pursue anything for himself.

     

    Currently my dad is in the hospital and he won’t talk to me. I have become the enemy! He blames me that he destroyed his house and has no place to go. I had nothing to do with that of coarse. Currently I can hardly recognize him from who he used to be 8 months ago. It’s like suddenly he took a turn for the worst and it may be that the best years we could have had with him are gone and done with. Now it’s time for the hard part, the decline and the hard fall and you can bet I will be there. I think it’s going to be like having a parent with dementia and they forget you. Except he has forgotten who he was and he has forgotten that we are friends! I can’t even carry a conversation with him anymore and I miss that. He is so gone and cant focus at all anymore, just like that! Just a few months ago we could talk and even joke.

     

    They say that people with this disease die young because of the stress.

     

    My dad and I for the most part have had a rewarding relationship over the years despite all the hardships we have faced and I still pray from time to time; I sit and I ponder and wonder what it would be like to have a normal dad who parented you, instead of you them and nags you too much and who is right all the time. I am still waiting for a miricle and I do believe.

     

    I am also a divorced mother remarried and I do believe there is no reason why those grandparents shouldn’t get to see that grandchild. Maybe you’re afraid that the father could be around her unsupervised. I think as long as that is settled in court it should be fine. I am sure they know better as they have been dealing for a long time. You will get used to her being gone a couple days here and there after awhile.

     

    I love that your child has a step dad he sounds like a good man. Whether she comes to know her real dad or not she is really going to need him. That’s what I missed the most! It’s like I have a dad but in a way he is not here. There is something missing, step dad can fill that void.

     

    Also I think it’s best if she is exposed to this at a young age but supervised  because she is going to need that early on exposure to develop some kind of let’s says knowing, intuition. She needs to know when to back off and when she can be closer and she can’t do that if she never becomes knowledgeable about her dad illness. When she turns 18 her real dad will become a shadow of your past but for her a present reality. She may become involved in his care somehow even if it in a little way like taking him shopping. You can try to put him behind you but she will never be able to so I think you should be as supportive as you can and let her get in close with her dads support system who will become hers as well.  

     

    I remember after my mom and dad got divorced, I was 13 it wasn’t very many years later before people within our circle stopped looking at my mom as his primary caregiver and started looking at me.

     

    For me I could never take on his care full time, nor could I allow him to live with me but there are things I have been able to do to help, mostly little things.

     

    And one more thing, I knew as a young child that my dad was sick mentally before any adult ever tried to explain it to me, I remember that distinctively. I knew he was delusional and other detail and I was sensitive to his delusions and could talk to him on his lever. I know it seems to make since that an adult mind might be able to understand these things better but it’s not true. Kids understand better, things like this, there intuitive and empathic ... and so much more.

     

    Good Luck!!!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • ohokay
    Jun. 17, 2008

    I am new to this site and so I just now came across this post, several months later.  I wanted to leave a comment because I have a different opinion and perspective from the others. 

     

    First, do you know for sure that your daughter's father has used illegal drugs?  Many times people with schizophrenia are accused of abusing illegal...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I am new to this site and so I just now came across this post, several months later.  I wanted to leave a comment because I have a different opinion and perspective from the others. 

     

    First, do you know for sure that your daughter's father has used illegal drugs?  Many times people with schizophrenia are accused of abusing illegal drugs based on thier behavior.  It is difficult for many people to understand how someone could act schizophrenic and not be on drugs. 

     

    My father has schizophrenia, which I have always known as I was allowed to maintain a relationship with him throughout my childhood.  I have always wished things were better for all of us, but I would not trade my childhood for anything.  There were many downs, but overall I am grateful to have had the relationship with my father that I had.  He was very loving towards me, not a great role model, but I think it was enough for me to know that he loved me unconditionaly.  Yes, my situation did numbers on my childhood and my status as a child.  I wish that I could have been more carefree, but on the otherhand, I do not think that it permanently scarred me.  In my opinion, 10 is old enough to understand what is going on and why.  Most 10 year olds could probably handle knowing about it.  It probably would not be dangerous for her to know that her father has a hard time controlling his behavior and the reason that HE does not get to spend time with her is because he is not well enough at the moment.  It is heartbreaking, but then again, it always will be.  I don't see any reason to change things, if her father is not in the picture though, unless your daughter is the one who would like to get to know her biological father.  I just don't want you to be terrified for no reason.  What if her father does get stabalized on medication and actually does want to see his daughter?  Are you going to hold it against him that he wasn't there for her in the past, whenever he really could not controll his actions?  That is tough and I hope you will use your heart and your head when you make that decision.

     

    I can also understand why you would not want her grandparents in her life, but I think that is a bad idea.  Your daughter is getting old enough to decide for herself whether or not she wants a relationship with them.  Of course it would be helpful if she knew them a little bit first.  Maybe she could be allowed to visit them if they are willing to abide by your rules.   Keep in mind that they only want what is best for their son and granddaughter.  I know that must be extremely scary because they might have the idea that they can help them build a relationship.  It might not be such a bad thing either.  Of course, always use your best motherly judgement.

     

    Please continue to learn as much as you can about the illness because there will come a time when you will need to be able to explain everything to your daughter. 

    • Anonymous
      MD in training
      Aug. 04, 2008

      Good for you, nightmare's daughter, for a balanced response for the other side of the argument. I too have some sense that the biological father's involvement might not be as bad as some are making it out to be. With the caveat that he is sick, I think letting a child know that their biological parent struggles with some things that other people don't is completely...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Good for you, nightmare's daughter, for a balanced response for the other side of the argument. I too have some sense that the biological father's involvement might not be as bad as some are making it out to be. With the caveat that he is sick, I think letting a child know that their biological parent struggles with some things that other people don't is completely healthy, and will actually assist that child to come to a fuller understanding of the world, perhaps even developing a stronger sense of compassion along the way. I think that it is entirely possible, given an appropriate level of structure, that visitation could work for everybody. And I also think that every child of a step-parent understands that their true father is the person who helps to raise them, not necessarily the person they are biologically related to, and that is also an important lesson for them to learn. Finally, I think the concerns about not taking medication and about illegal drug use, although valid, could certainly be addressed in an appropriately written visitation rights agreement. In fact, by doing so, it might also help the child's biological father to understand that he needs to make better decisions in order to maintain visitation priveleges. Which could be a win-win situation for all concerned.

       

      Good luck, and clearly a difficult situation. You certainly have my sympathy as you wrestle with these questions.

  • Christina Bruni
    Health Guide
    Nov. 29, 2007

    Hello private,

     

    Stick to your guns!  I fear the biological father's visitations could do more harm than good.  I would question his intent, and his family's intent, in wanting to see your daughter after all these years.

     

    If he is doing drugs, and lives at home with his parents, I can guarantee you his parents are "enabling"...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Hello private,

     

    Stick to your guns!  I fear the biological father's visitations could do more harm than good.  I would question his intent, and his family's intent, in wanting to see your daughter after all these years.

     

    If he is doing drugs, and lives at home with his parents, I can guarantee you his parents are "enabling" him and "co-dependents" in his drug use.  There is no reason a parent should allow an adult son or daughter living in their home if that son or daughter is doing drugs.

     

    I question his family's judgment on this sudden idea that they need visitation rights.  Your daughter has a warm, loving relationship with your husband.  She is a minor, though, and not an adult with the reasoning and capabilities to handle the demands of her biological father and his family.

     

    You have every right to stand firm.  When your daughter turns 18, that is the time to first consider visits. 

     

    I wonder, too, if your daughter's father is manipulating his parents in some way.  A drug user is good at playing games to get his loved ones to enable him to use drugs.

     

    May I ask how you found out he's doing drugs?  Did his parents admit to this?  That is the sure tip-off that you have every right to turn down the request.

     

    I smell a rat.  Enough said.

     

    Respectfully,

    Chris

    • Anonymous
      Private's a...
      Dec. 01, 2007
      Thank you Chris!! I smell a rat too. I found out that he was using drugs through his medical records. My daugther has a guardian ad litem for our termination of parental rights/adoption case and the guardian informed me that in his medical records there were such things as "out of meds for 2-3 weeks" "Non-compliance to program" "Drug...
      RHMLucky777
      Read More
      Thank you Chris!! I smell a rat too. I found out that he was using drugs through his medical records. My daugther has a guardian ad litem for our termination of parental rights/adoption case and the guardian informed me that in his medical records there were such things as "out of meds for 2-3 weeks" "Non-compliance to program" "Drug Abuse counseling needed for patient" There was even a drug screen done and he tested positive for 2 different drugs!! After we go to court, I will tell you how it went, thanks again for the advice!!
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Nov. 24, 2007

    Another problem I have with his parents wanting visitation with him living there is the fact that friends and family members informed me that he is very much out of contact with reality and arguing with the voices that he hears. I am sure that my daugther would not understand and she would be horrified with this and him being a complete stranger...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Another problem I have with his parents wanting visitation with him living there is the fact that friends and family members informed me that he is very much out of contact with reality and arguing with the voices that he hears. I am sure that my daugther would not understand and she would be horrified with this and him being a complete stranger (by chose). How do you deal with that as a family member?