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Author Topic: how to continue being a parent  (Read 3120 times)

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Offline zach

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how to continue being a parent
« on: December 21, 2010, 08:52:47 AM »
are there any other single parents here? i feel somewhat at a loss on how to continue being a father since my diagnosis. my disease has become a huge elephant in the room that just won't leave... just wondering how others have managed... i feel like i've lost my kids and i don't know what to do about it

Offline hellrider

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Re: how to continue being a parent
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2010, 09:12:25 AM »
Just continue to love them and try to be yourself as you were before. I am not a single parent but a parent still. My wife and I have 3 kids and I consider it a beautiful privilege to be a parent. I am a mess with being poz, but I don't let my status get in the way with my kids.
Life's a hell of a ride and I still have some ridin to do.

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Offline Ann

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Re: how to continue being a parent
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2010, 09:51:26 AM »
Hi Zach. Have you told your kids? I don't remember if you've said. When I was still fairly newly diagnosed, I got my ex to come over and we told our daughter together. My ex isn't poz, but I wanted him there for extra moral support for our daughter. She was a month or two shy of her fourteenth birthday.

Kids aren't stupid, quite the contrary, they're very astute when it comes to knowing that something is wrong with a parent. They might not know what, exactly, is wrong, but they sure do pick up on the vibes. I felt it was better for her to know the truth than for her to speculate and imagine all sorts of things. That's what kids will do, you know. What they don't know they'll make up and scare themselves silly in the process. And they tend to blame themselves too. They'll think you're upset about something to do with them, even if that's the furthest from the truth.

I also told my daughter because I live in a small town on a small island and the fact that eight people all tested poz in our town made the newspapers. They didn't name names, but they might as well have due to rumours that were already circulating. I wanted her to hear it from me and not some kid at school. As it turned out, nobody ever said a word to her about it, but I wanted her to be prepared if it did happen.

She took it pretty well. I told her I wasn't going to die today, tomorrow or any time soon and that I'd be around for a long time to nag her. That made her laugh and she actually said "damn!" ;D

I also took her to one of my hiv doctor appointments and it was one of the best things I ever did for her. I knew that she'd be imagining all sorts (again, as kids will do) and I wanted her to know what went on. My doctor was very good with her and spent well over an hour talking to us both. That put her mind at ease more than anything.

After that, we were able to treat hiv as just another part of life, which is what it is. Don't give it any more power over you than you have to. It's just an effin virus!

And give your kids credit. Don't think you're shielding them by not telling them, because they're going to know that something is going on anyway. Give them something tangible. Depending on how old they are, you may have to adjust how technical you get with them. But tell them something. They deserve to know. That's how I feel about it anyway.

I'm sorry if I've been off the mark, but when you said it's an elephant in the room, I gathered that you haven't really told them about it or talked about it. Get it out in the open, don't let it fester. You'll be glad you did. All leaving an elephant in the room does is leave you with a big pile of elephant manure.
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Offline skeebo1969

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Re: how to continue being a parent
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2010, 01:35:07 PM »
are there any other single parents here? i feel somewhat at a loss on how to continue being a father since my diagnosis. my disease has become a huge elephant in the room that just won't leave... just wondering how others have managed... i feel like I've lost my kids and i don't know what to do about it

I was a single parent when I was diagnosed.  Both of my kids are from separate marriages, one was 13 and the other four at the time of my diagnosis.   My thirteen year old, who is now 19, has drifted so far away from daddy.  I question whether it was the HIV or just her being a teenager.  My friends say she'll come back when she gets a little older, as if to say this behavior is normal.  I don't know though, it seems like I've lost her forever and it's one of the most painful aspects I've dealt with since being diagnosed.

Yes, I blame HIV however, I am not so sure I am being fair about it.  

Knowing the many variables that can exist, what is it exactly about your situation that makes you feel like you've lost your kids?   I hope you come back and share, it's a painful subject and should be discussed.

I would also like to extend my condolences for the loss of your child in April.  I also lost a son in 2002 and it was one of the most difficult times in my life. 

« Last Edit: December 21, 2010, 01:53:26 PM by skeebo1969 »
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Offline zach

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Re: how to continue being a parent
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2010, 04:39:18 PM »
Ann, my ex told my kids while I was hospitalized. My 12yr younger son, who has always been a more sensitive and compassionate person, surprised me by the research he did to understand... when he started asking about viral load and opportunistic infections it nearly broke my heart. The look of concern on his face seemed to add years to his age.

My youngest son was not my biological child, but he and my 12yr old were very close. When the youngest was killed, he took it hard, then just two months later he was told his Dad has AIDS. Its a burden I didn't want him to carry.

My older son turned 16 shortly after my diagnosis. He has been angry it seems for the eight years since his mother and I divorced. He was angry at me for raising someone elses child. He seemed to resent my stepson while he was alive, and reacted bitterly after the car wreck. And he seems angry that I'm sick.

I've had a steady relationship with them since the divorce. But since I was diagnosed I've only seen them twice. Both times were when my health was still very poor. Now with the holidays coming, the pain seems more focused.

When I say it seems like an elephant in the room, its not because they don't know. It's because it seems like thats the only thing people will talk about anymore. Damn thing won't go away.

Offline BT65

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Re: how to continue being a parent
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2010, 06:05:28 PM »
Zach, I told my daughter when she was 5, which was when I was diagnosed, and she's now 26.  I got ahold of the local ASO, and they helped me with the info, about how to tell such a young one.  I also took her around all my poz friends, even when some of them were on their deathbeds.  She visited them along with me, and seemed to get more comfortable.  Well, I don't mean she was comfortable seeing someone in the process of dying, but she knew their personalities, and that helped.  I'm not telling you to run out, and find people who are dying from Aids, just trying to share my experience.

She's been educated through the years about different things.  She's been through a heck of a lot in this deal with me, I was very sick, and on the brink quite a few times.  And she also saw me coming back to life again (I hope you know what I mean), and is seeing how I'm living now, and knows that I'm not going to die anytime soon, at least not from HIV.  Of course, this has been throughout 21 years.  I understand you're more newly diagnosed. 

I would try getting ahold of the ASO, and seeing if they have info specific to your children's ages.  That may help a bit. I understand your one son is doing research, but that can drive a person crazy, especially if they're really not understanding what they're reading. You may be able to help there.  I like Ann's having her doctor talk to her daughter.  That's a good idea as well.   

It takes time for children to adjust to such news.  But they're pretty versatile.  Just hang in there, and keep in good touch with them.
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Offline eric48

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Re: how to continue being a parent
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2010, 07:59:29 PM »

Everyone has a different story. When you end up in hospital it is hard to avoid disclosure.

I personally had the luxury to be able to keep it to myself.

My family life is business as usual.

Yet, my son and I attended an open doors at our local NIH. He hopes to become a biologist or doctor...
I have let him choose the lab he would like to visit and we ended up in the very lab where they did my resistance test. That was my son's choice. He asked many questions. A young boy, coming of age, has concerns of his own... 

That alone was a bit rough.

We left. I asked him if he had learned thing of interest.

Yes, Dad. I was happy to visit the lab I'll be working in 10 years from now.

Suit yourself son, but I would advise you choose a more promising field of research.
(I knew that a bit of fatherly opposition would only strengthen his resolve)

Dad, this IS what  want to do, don't even try to talk me out of it !

(by myself: As if  would... Son, I've just talked you in, buddy.)

This infection is quite a journey !




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Offline wolfter

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Re: how to continue being a parent
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2010, 06:54:29 AM »
You appear to be an awesome father.  It's a long journey and well worth the battles.  I well remember when my son was an infant and I feared his torment of having a gay father then adding the stigma of having a gay dad with AIDS.  Maybe you're more fortunate to have an ex that has the sense to put the childrens' well being before your own. 

Good luck.
Being honest is not wronging others, continuing the dishonesty is.

Offline Theyer

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Re: how to continue being a parent
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2010, 07:35:30 AM »
Hello Zach,

When you talk about the elephant in the room From my own experience  [differant to yours nieces&newphews } I am picking up something that needs to be talked about. As Ann said kids are not stupid but they are not meant to be as skilled as the adults in tackling difficult subjects. Your 12 year old has given you the message I would say that he wants to talk by doing the research, your 16 sounds like all the feelings are big in him hence the anger.

You write clearly so would a letter help ? its a precious thing a heartfelt letter.

A friend dealing with angry Kids and distance found email and skype helpful. Christmas does make all tragic events greater ,it seems to me that the important thing is to make sure in what ever manner that the boys realize how important they are to you. Which I am sure you do .

Take care I hope next year allows you to increase the depth of love you have to your love ones.

"If we can find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people ."  Tony Benn


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