Managing the Challenges of Bipolar Parenting

By: Sam Bowman

Struggling With Time, Energy, and Relationships

The most prominent symptoms of bipolar disorder are the highs and lows you can feel at any given time. Going through episodes of mania and depression can take a toll on your mental, emotional, and physical health. However, it can also impact your relationships with people in your life — including your children.

When you’re dealing with a manic episode, you might experience things like:

● Increased energy;

● An exaggerated sense of confidence;

● Distractibility;

● Racing thoughts;

● Poor decision-making.


You might make decisions with your children during these episodes that you can’t follow through on later. Or, you might let your distracted thoughts cause you to focus on something else so you’re not paying attention to your kids the way you should. Depending on their age, that could be dangerous.

Mental clarity and strong decision-making skills are important when you’re raising children and trying to maintain healthy attachments. Thankfully, there are things you can do each day to improve your cognitive performance and boost your focus. One of the easiest ways to improve your mental clarity is by staying physically active. Regular exercise can help you to harness your energy, boost your self-confidence in a healthy way, and make it easier to focus on what’s important rather than allowing your racing thoughts to take over.

You can also improve your mental clarity each day, especially when you’re experiencing a “high,” by practicing mindfulness as often as possible. Choosing to stay in the present moment can make it easier to fight back against some of the traditional symptoms of a manic episode.

Having that kind of clarity will make it easier to properly care for your child. It will not only guard you against making rash decisions that may put you and your child in danger, but it will also leave the lines of communication open so you can strengthen your relationship and ease any underlying tension.

Dealing With Depression

Dealing with the highs of bipolar disorder can be exhausting, frustrating, and even emotionally jarring at times when you’re trying to keep your children’s lives as stable as possible. However, some might argue that the lows of the disorder are even worse.


Many people who deal with bipolar disorder also struggle with depression, which can negatively impact your ability to parent in several ways. First, you might be tempted to withdraw from most daily activities. You could end up missing out on important things in your child’s life. Symptoms like fatigue, a lack of motivation, and changes in your eating and sleeping habits can make it difficult to be the kind of parent you want to be.

The good news is that there are many effective ways to treat and manage the symptoms of depression. From working with a therapist to taking antidepressants, there are things you can do to combat your lows. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any risks involved with taking medication for depression as early as during pregnancy.

It’s not uncommon to feel like you’re on a rollercoaster when you’re dealing with bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, those feelings can often come with guilt when you’re also trying to be a good parent.

You’re not alone in how you’re feeling, but you also don’t have to stay on that ride. Consider some of the suggestions here to manage the challenges of bipolar parenting. This way, you can be present for your children, both physically and emotionally.

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