5 Family Support Tips for Parents and Peers

by Christina Bruni Patient Expert

I want to revisit the topic of family support for peers in recovery. What I write parents or peers can use interchangeably.

Unconditional support is key in maintaining a healthy recovery in the long term. My mother, Mary Ann Bruni, drove me to the hospital within 24 hours.

My contention is: you honor the parents who gave you life. My mother mistreated me when I was a kid. Yet nowhere in my memoir Left of the Dial did I let slip about this remote past.

Peers: I urge you to forgive your parents. Try reaching out to them if they're at a loss as to how to reach you. If they're reaching out to you, understand that having their support can make all the difference in creating a better recovery.

Early traumatic experience made me who I am today: a scrappy little fighter who champions recovery for everyone, not just a select few.

Some tips for giving and receiving support:

Network with other family members and peers.

Dial NAMI at 800-950-6264 to find the telephone number and location of your local chapter that hosts family support groups and peer support groups and education workshops for family and peers.

Practice giving thanks to help you too.

"An attitude of gratitude" is not just a feel-good cliche. Research indicates keeping a daily grateful journal can ward off depression. Write down five things every day that you're thankful for.

It can be as simple as saying "Thank you" to a person who has helped you out.
Before they even lifted the drill I thanked my two cousins for coming to my apartment to install the new closet doors. I offered to give them some money. "Not at all," they brushed off getting the bucks and installed the doors in only 55 minutes.

Say "I'm sorry. What can I do to make things better now?"

Your actions might have harmed your family members while you were symptomatic. Make good on your promise and take action to heal the rift. Show by your behavior that you've changed.

Support your son or daughter throughout their recovery.

Encourage them in their goal-setting habits and help them follow through on achieving goals. Praise them for achieving a goal. Yet tell them you're proud of them regardless of whether they succeed. The effort counts, not the result.

Let no indication of disappointment, upsetment, or resentment pour out.

Not in front of your son or daughter. Not to other people.

I had the wonderful gift to interact with a woman whose son had a grave disability. She only shared with others her love and adoration for this kid who was a trouper and brought her much joy and pride. Share your struggle in a support group instead.

Remember: you might have wanted your kid to grow up to be a JD or MD. Only it's not for you to decide your son or daughter's life path. They own their lives. Love them for who they are not what they can do.

Be suppportive of their goals for what they want to do even if it suprises you or isn't what you would choose for them. As long as they're not doing something to harm themselves rest assured it's perfectly normal for everyone to make a mistake (or two or three or however many) on the way to getting things right.

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Christina Bruni
Meet Our Writer
Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.