Parenting with a Brain Injury

Updated: Nov 11

It’s been a couple of BIG days in a row…and I reckon they would have qualified as BIG days even to the pre brain injury self. As it tends to be the case when fatigue sets in, my mind started running a bit wild.


I love and absolutely adore my 3 boys and in lots of ways, they are playing a pivotal role in keeping me focused and motivated to explore new ways to recover from brain injury to the best of my abilities.


These boys have had to grow up fast in so many ways, but at times I forget that they are also kids, tweens, teens, which means that they are constantly looking, learning and pushing their own boundaries.


Being a parent is a hard and complex role in the best of times, but I do believe that brain injury has added another layer of complexity to this most important role of mine.

Selfie of a woman with her 3 sons with WHangaroa harbour in the background

I have had doubts around whether I can meet their individual needs, guilt - so much guilt - around not always being able to be present or to part take like before encephalitis and acquired brain injury. There has been moments - so many moments - of faking or pretending to be ok to avoid worrying their little minds, and then there has been the opposite scenario where they have seen me crumble - crumble hard - leaving me to wonder how traumatic this might be for them in return…which let’s face it is often followed by a tremendous amount of personal guilt. I have had many moments of true appreciation of me being here to witness their joys, successes and talking through their sadness & frustrations, but there has also been the flip side where them simply being kids has depleted my brain of the very little energy it had left.


I guess the bottom line is that I want to set a good example for them, I want them to be proud of what I’m bringing into their lives, but at times, the wonky brain has made parenting just that much harder on so many levels. I know that they have learnt skills, have developed aptitudes and qualities that may not have emerged had it not been from having a mom with a brain injury, but I’m also dreading seeing them carry a certain amount of trauma from this ongoing roller coaster ride. In plain language, I don’t want to mess them up I guess!


I don’t have an answer as to how to achieve this yet, but I am mindful and very aware of the impact of trauma on a developing brain. I am exploring ways to minimise this very real possibility. In dealing with my own trauma brought on from brain injury, I’m hoping to learn tools and to find ways to better process it all so I can pass those skills and learnings onto them should they ever have to go down that road.


I can do hard things, really hard things actually, and actively working on processing and moving on from traumatic experiences is definitely one of those hard things. I am hoping that they are watching and learning when it comes to this as I intend to move past a few battles of my own.


Maxim, Jake and Sebastian, thanks for being the clever, perceptive, empathic, awesome kids, tweens, teens that you are, I’m really proud of the young men you are becoming.


Four hands doing a all in with dirt ground in the background




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