Toward a New Understanding of Maternal Self-Care During Family Crisis: Initiating a Shared Legacy of Strength and Hope
This narrative explores the author’s experience of suddenly ecoming a caregiver for a spouse while also caring for minor children. The author uses reflection and research to describe what she learned about self-care, how she integrated her needs with the needs of her children, and why prevailing concepts of self-care as an individual construct can undermine its effective conceptualization and practice. The importance of self-care for caregivers is well documented, as is the failure of most caregivers to successfully achieve it. This failure carries particular poignancy for mothers of minor children. Studies document the academic, social, and emotional challenges that children experience when families face the upheaval associated with serious health problems. The children’s need to navigate new ways of being within their families requires the support of their mother, which can be difficult if she becomes too overburdened by her caregiving role. Avoiding this cycle requires better education for families in caregiving situations and the adoption of a new understanding of self-care for mothers. This article combines the experiences of one family with research about caregivers, the effect of paternal brain injury on children, and typical recovery phases. It shares insights about the importance of modelling effective self-care as a healthy maternal legacy.
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