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Overcoming My Fear of Being a Parent with IBS

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on my fears about becoming a parent with IBS. In summary, I described the limitations IBS has put on me and my fear of not being the father that my future children deserve. I was also afraid for a couple of other reasons, like not being able to be there for my children whenever they needed or wanted my support (i.e. sports events or graduations), and even the possibility of any of them having IBS or chronic illness as well.

It’s OK to be afraid as a parent

I guess it’s natural for any parent to have fears for their child(ren) because (I assume) all any parent wants is the best, and to provide their best, for their kid(s). Dealing with a chronic condition made me worry a little extra though because I already saw how it could affect my relationships with others. Nonetheless, I wrote that article before having my first child, my son, this year on January 21, 2019. Now that I’m finally a first-time dad, I must say that I’m beyond happy and proud of myself that I am overcoming my fears about being a parent despite having a chronic invisible illness.

In retrospect, I realize some of the worries I had a few years ago were somewhat irrational, and my mentality has changed a lot since then. I know now that I wouldn’t miss out on any of those activities/experiences with my new son no matter what pain my IBS is putting me through. In fact, I am willing to suffer through any pain to see him happy, and nothing, including my IBS, will stop me. I’ll be honest, I don’t expect myself to be a perfect warrior who will win every battle.

I overcame my fears of parenting with IBS

However, I refuse to live my life ever showing my family that they don’t deserve my very best at all times. The other thing I’ve realized is that I cannot control whether my son has or develops a chronic illness, but I can help him develop ways to cope with it if he does, the same way I have. Having a parent that understands invisible illnesses is definitely a blessing that anyone with a chronic condition would be lucky to have. Between my wife and me, I’m positive we can provide the support system he needs no matter what struggles my son faces in life.

One thing is for sure: being a full-time parent is and will be challenging for me while dealing with IBS. My sleep schedule, while already irregular due to my IBS, seems almost non-existent on some days. There have been times where I’ve felt like a zombie while changing a diaper or preparing a bottle. Other difficult moments are when I need to relieve my wife from her shift, but I also have to use the bathroom, which can add another thirty minutes to an hour – thankfully she’s very understanding and doesn’t rush my process!

Looking forward to the future of parenting

As my son gets older, I’m very sure the challenges I go through as a parent are going to evolve. Nevertheless, I am actually looking forward to the challenges that await me because I want to be an example to my son of what it means to persevere despite any mental or physical obstacle, such as depression or a chronic illness. I hope to show my son that I do the best that I can for my family, regardless of the pain and limitations my illness creates for me at times.

Can any of you parents with IBS relate? Did you ever (or still do) have fears when it comes to your condition interfering with your parenting? I look forward to reading your comments and thank you so much for taking the time to read my article!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Maureen1958
    2 months ago

    Hi, I have had IBS for nearly 35 years. My son is 26 now but he had/has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Life was very difficult but I was lucky I didn’t have to work as my husband earned enough to support us. So my son and I spent a lot of time together, and I found that because of my troubles my son has grown-up to have empathy which is something people with ADHD don’t usually have. I feel that seeing me struggle made him more understanding to others. He has turned out to be such a lovely young man.

  • tmholland moderator
    2 months ago


    Thank you so much for sharing. My mother struggles with illness (and I have ADHD) and I believe what you are saying is true. I’m sure that seeing your difficulties did foster a sense of empathy in him. I would like to think it did for me. You kind of need at least a little empathy to be a social worker (which I am :-)). We appreciate your comments and I hope you are well today. -Todd, Team

  • Rosie
    2 months ago

    I used to visit a local library with my daughter in her stroller. The library had a sign “No public washrooms” and I used my two year old as the reason we needed to use the staff washroom but it was I who needed it. This happened so often before I stayed on a strict diet with no milk products or high fat foods. I was so happy to move closer to a normal library with public washrooms.

  • HessP moderator author
    2 months ago

    That’s actually very creative-thinking, @rosie! If I’m ever in a situation like that in public, I might have to use my son as a reason as well, lol! Sometimes we do what we must for the sake of managing our health properly. And, it certainly helps to live near places that give easy access to public washrooms – that’s just so important for many of us with digestive illnesses who have or want to go out in public for whatever reason. Nonetheless, thanks so much for sharing and taking the time to read my article! Have a great rest of the week, and stay strong and positive! – Hess, Team member

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