Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Do Twenty Percent of Today's Parent Readers Have in Common?

Dear Nice People at Today’s Parent (of which I’m an avid reader – yes, this is me sucking up because I really, really want to be your next blogger),

You asked me to tell you what makes my situation unique. Nothing, is my answer.

What? But how could that possibly be? What kind of nut applies for a job and says there’s nothing unique about them? (This one, apparently. But keep reading, OK? There’s a point, I swear.)

My story isn’t unique, but that’s the beauty of it. You see, my son has mental health issues that affect pretty much all aspects of his life, not to mention ours. Sounds unique, right? Except it isn’t.


The reality is that one in five Canadian children will experience mental health issues at some point in their childhood. If we assume, for argument’s sake, that there is a limit of one child with a mental illness per family (totally not the case since there is a genetic component to many of the conditions, so it is extremely common to have more than one child per family with mental health challenges), that would translate to 20 percent of Canadian parents having a child with a childhood mental illness. That would mean that of the 215,709 unique monthly visitors to the Today’s Parent website, roughly 43,141.8 of them have/will have/know someone who does have a child with a mental illness (that .8 person is simply in denial). Granted, those numbers are totally skewed in my favour because my math skills leave a lot to be desired, but you’re looking for a writer, not a mathematician. Regardless, you see what I’m going for. That’s a heck of a lot of parents…readers…your readers.

So if my story isn’t unique, my reality isn’t unique, my daily challenges aren’t unique, what is? Quite honestly, it’s my willingness to talk about it. The symptoms of mental illness in children often manifest the same way regardless of the condition: in “bad” behaviour. Unlike children who show physical signs of their condition, children with mental health issues look totally “normal.” Rather, as a result of their behaviour, they often come across as brats and their parents as lazy or negligent. But what people don’t realize is that parents of mentally ill children often deal with more parenting issues in a week than most deal with in a lifetime. Parenting a child like my beautiful boy can be exhausting, soul-sucking, embarrassing, alienating, frustrating, depressing and maddening. It can also be joyful, silly, uplifting, rewarding and awe-inspiring…and that’s what I blog about.

Rather than hide my son’s issues because of the stigma (oh, yes…lots of stigma), I choose to embrace it and share it. My husband and I spent many years wondering what we were doing wrong, and no parent should have to ask those questions.

Want more? Read on! (Don’t forget to read the comments, because they tell you how awesome I am!)

I'm Not a Bad Mother!
What Makes a Parent Harm their Child? I Think I Know
Code Bear
I'm so Tired of It All (Fine, you said three, but you got four because I love this one.)

Enjoy your tour of my life (and that of 20% of your readers...don't forget that part!).

Laura Wright

Bio: A former Montrealer and Torontonian, I now live in small-town Ontario (pop. 20,000) with my husband, my two sons and my dog. I’m the editor of a local family magazine (distribution 15,000) and am a children’s mental health advocate and public speaker.


  1. This is gorgeous. Really.
    I hope that they read this. Mental illnesses are so important. I know that being an adult with a mental illness is tough on me. I couldn't imagine having to raise a child with an illness.
    Mental illnesses can be so overwhelmingly isolating and I really think that Today's Parent would truly benefit from a Mom who parents a beautiful child. Think of all the Mom's and Dad's who will be connected to your story.

  2. I'm fairly certain they'll read the posting since it's in reply to their opening for a new blogger. You had to apply through your blog, so I did! Whether they'll see it the way we do is another story, but I certainly hope so.

  3. You ARE awesome! I do hope they're savvy enough to get the boundless love and devotion you have to your family, mingled with a great acerbic wit and BRAINS!!! Good luck!

  4. Awwww...Margit...you're making me blush! It's a good colour on me, though! ;-)

  5. This is such an adorable photo.