Co parenting with a bipolar father can be more difficult, but it is not impossible. You just need to be prepared for the challenges that come along with it. Here, I will discuss 12 practical tips on co-parenting with a bipolar father!
When a person has bipolar disorder, their mood can swing from highs (or mania) to lows (or depression). This can be a complex condition to live with, and it can also be difficult for the people closest to the person with bipolar disorder.
As Amelia, my cousin, said,
“When my son was born, I was over the moon. I had always wanted a child and couldn’t believe he was finally mine. But as time went on, I was feared of the bipolar father of the child. Finally, we divorced. But, my that fear has never ended. It became more and more difficult to co-parent with his bipolar father. It seemed like no matter what I did, our relationship never improved.”
12 Effective Tips on Co Parenting with a Bipolar Father
#1. Understand the condition:
Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder characterized by periods of abnormally high mood (mania or hypomania) alternated with periods of depressed mood. Symptoms can affect energy levels, activity, the ability to carry out daily tasks, and more.
If the father of your child has bipolar disorder, be understanding and patient, as he may not be able to control his mood swings. You have to understand that it’s not personal, and it is not their fault. Don’t try to use this weakness of the other parent.
#2. Educate yourself about the symptoms:
Educate yourself about the symptoms of bipolar disorder to better understand and anticipate your co-parent’s behaviour. Some common symptoms include excessive spending, increased energy or restlessness, reckless behaviour, irritability, and changes in sleep patterns.
Knowing the symptoms can help you prepare for any potential mood swings or episodes your co-parent may have and know when to seek professional help if necessary.
#3. Communicate with your co-parent:
Navigating child custody with a bipolar ex-spouse might be complicated. But, It is essential to have open communication with your co-parent about their condition and how it may affect your co-parenting relationship. Don’t be afraid to have tough conversations about setting boundaries or seeking help if necessary.
Communicate with the other parent about any changes in medication, treatment, or therapy they may be undergoing for their bipolar disorder.
#4. Seek support from others:
It can be difficult to co-parent with a bipolar parent, so seek support from others. This could include therapy, support groups, or even just talking to friends and loved ones about your experiences. You are not alone in this situation, and seeking support can help you cope with the challenges of co-parenting with a bipolar parent.
#5. Set boundaries:
Set boundaries in your co-parenting relationship, especially regarding the child’s well-being and safety. This could include not allowing overnight visits when the other parent is experiencing a manic episode or not allowing them to drive the child if they are not stable.
Boundaries are necessary for the child’s safety and well-being, as well as your own mental health. Don’t be afraid to have tough conversations about setting and enforcing boundaries with your co-parent.
#6. Take care of yourself:
It can be emotionally draining, so take care of yourself. Make sure to prioritize your own mental and emotional well-being and seek help if necessary. This can also include setting boundaries with your co-parent about their behaviour towards you, such as not tolerating verbal or emotional abuse. You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness in any relationship, including co-parenting.
#7. Stay organized:
It can be helpful to stay organized with your co-parenting plans, schedules, and communication. This could include using a shared online calendar or scheduling regular check-ins with your co-parent. Staying organized can help alleviate stress and confusion in the co-parenting relationship.
#8. Seek professional help:
You may seek professional help for both you and your co-parents, such as therapy or medication management. This can help both of you cope with the challenges of co-parenting with a bipolar parent and improve your relationship.
#9. Encourage treatment adherence:
Encourage your co-parent to seek treatment and stick with it, as this can significantly improve their condition and overall well-being. This could include attending therapy sessions or taking medication as prescribed.
However, don’t try to diagnose or give advice on what type of treatment they should pursue. Let them make their own decisions with the help of a professional. It’s a disease due to which sometimes a mother can abandon her child.
#10. Educate the child:
“My dad is bipolar, and I hate him.”
Educate the child about their parent’s bipolar disorder in an age-appropriate manner, as they can’t say this way. This can help them understand and cope with any changes in behaviour or mood swings they may witness from their parent. Let them know it is not their fault, and encourage them to seek support if needed.
#11. Seek legal assistance:
You may want to seek legal assistance, such as working with a co-parenting therapist or consulting a lawyer, especially in cases of potential abuse or neglect from your co-parent’s bipolar disorder.
Prioritize the safety and well-being of the child in these situations. If needed, you may file a petition for a restraining order or seek sole custody of the child. If you can prove that the bipolar parent cannot correctly care for the child due to their disorder, the court may consider it.
#12. Don’t badmouth your ex:
No matter how tempting it may be, resist the urge to badmouth your ex in front of your child. This will only make them feel caught in the middle and could damage their relationship with their other parent. If you need to vent about your ex, do so with a friend or therapist – not with your child.
My dad was bipolar. I grew up with a bipolar Parent. I think you should watch this video to learn more about co-parenting with a bipolar father.
FAQs on Co Parenting with a Bipolar Father
What is a bipolar parent like?
Every person with bipolar disorder is unique, and their symptoms may vary. Some common symptoms of bipolar disorder include experiencing extreme mood swings (e.g., manic episodes or depressive episodes), having trouble sleeping, reckless behaviour, impulsivity, and difficulty managing relationships and responsibilities.
These symptoms can significantly impact a person’s ability to parent their child effectively. It’s important to remember that bipolar disorder is a medical condition, and it is not the individual’s fault.
It’s also important to recognize that individuals with bipolar disorder can still be loving, caring parents capable of providing for their child’s needs. With proper treatment and support from the co-parent and others in their life, they can learn to manage their symptoms and positively influence their child’s life.
Can a person be bipolar and narcissistic?
Narcissism and bipolar disorder are two different mental health conditions. However, someone can be diagnosed with both conditions. People with narcissistic personality disorder exhibit characteristics such as an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for excessive attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy.
People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood, energy, and activity changes. While people with narcissism often crave attention and praise, people with bipolar disorder can swing from feeling incredibly high and energized to feeling low and depleted.
Despite these differences, there is some overlap between the two disorders. For example, both conditions are associated with impulsivity, risk-taking behaviour, and difficulty maintaining healthy relationships. Therefore, a person can be both bipolar and narcissistic.
How does bipolar disorder affect families?
Bipolar disorder can affect families in various ways, such as causing strain in relationships and financial difficulties due to the individual’s symptoms. The co-parent may experience stress and emotional burden from managing their partner’s bipolar disorder and caring for their child.
Their child may also struggle with understanding and coping with their parent’s symptoms. However, with proper support and resources, families can learn to navigate these challenges and strengthen their relationships.
The entire family must seek support, whether it be through therapy, support groups, or other resources. This can help improve communication and coping skills within the family and ultimately improve their overall well-being.
How do I deal with my bipolar dad?
Dealing with bipolar disorder can be a challenge for both the person suffering from the condition and their loved ones. If you have a bipolar father, you may feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells, never quite sure what will set him off.
However, there are some things that you can do to help manage his condition and make life a little easier for both of you.
First, try to encourage him to stick to a routine. This means getting up and going to bed at the same time every day, eating regular meals, and getting regular exercise. Additionally, it is essential to avoid any stressful situations or triggers that may cause him to become agitated.
Finally, ensure that he takes any prescribed medications as directed by his doctor. Following these tips can help your dad manage his bipolar disorder and live a more stable and enjoyable life.
How does a bipolar parent affect a child?
A bipolar parent’s symptoms can have a significant impact on their child. They may witness their parent’s mood swings and changes in behaviour, which can cause confusion and distress for the child.
The child may also experience a sense of guilt or shame about their parent’s disorder and struggle with forming secure attachments. Without proper support, the child may be at a higher risk of developing bipolar disorder or other mental health issues.
However, with proper support and resources, the child can learn to cope with their parent’s bipolar disorder and develop a healthy relationship with them. Co-parents and other loved ones should educate the child about bipolar disorder in an age-appropriate manner and provide them with ongoing support as needed.
Is bipolar hereditary from the father?
The causes of bipolar disorder are not fully understood, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some evidence suggests that the disease may be hereditary, especially if it runs in the family.
For example, if the father has bipolar disorder, there is a higher chance that his children will also develop the condition. However, it should be noted that not all children of bipolar parents will go on to develop the disorder.
Environmental factors, such as stress or trauma, may also trigger the development of bipolar disorder. While the exact causes of the condition remain unknown, remember that bipolar disorder is not simply a matter of choice or willpower. Instead, it is a complex mental health condition that requires professional treatment.
Can bipolar be good parents?
Mental illness is often seen as a disqualifier for parenting. After all, how can someone who struggles with their own mental health be expected to care for another human being?
However, there are many examples of people with bipolar disorder who are competent parents and excel in their roles.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme changes in mood and energy levels. While this can certainly be a challenge for anyone, it can also give people with bipolar disorder a unique perspective that can be helpful in parenting.
For example, people with bipolar disorder often have a heightened sense of empathy, which can help them to understand and respond to their child’s needs.
They may also be more creative and have a greater capacity for the experience than those who do not have bipolar disorder. As a result, they may be better equipped to provide their children with a rich and stimulating environment.
Of course, parenting is not easy, and specific challenges come with having bipolar disorder. However, remember that every parent has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses.
The ability to parent effectively is not determined by mental illness but by the willingness to learn and grow as a person. With the proper support, people with bipolar disorder can be good parents and thrive in their roles.
Co-parenting with a bipolar father isn’t easy. Still, you can make co-parenting work if you set limits, learn about the situation, put your child first, get professional help, and take care of yourself. Always keep communication open and work with your ex for the sake of your child.