Children of Schizophrenic Parents

sad child

Children of schizophrenic parents have a number of unique challenges to overcome. Schizophrenia is a serious illness that often has a tremendous impact on a person's ability to carry out normal daily activities, meaning that a parent with untreated or inadequately managed schizophrenia may not always be easy to live with or able to provide the structure and care children need. In addition, schizophrenia has a genetic component that leaves biological children of schizophrenic parents at an increased risk of developing the disease themselves. However, while having a parent with schizophrenia does increase a child's risk of developing the disease, it is important to note that the majority of children of schizophrenic parents do not go on to develop schizophrenia.

Having a parent with schizophrenia will undoubtably affect a child in a number of ways. Children who have a primary caretaker with schizophrenia may not always have their basic needs met, and may not have a good example to teach them appropriate social and life skills, like how to interact with others, pay bills, or cook a meal. They may develop attachment issues and have difficulty trusting other people. It is common for children of schizophrenics to feel guilty about their parent's illness, fear about developing schizophrenia or being an inadequate parent themselves, and depression or anxiety about their situation and life in general. A parent who is paranoid may make their child feel as though they are a bad person or the reason for their parent's illness. It can be very confusing for children to understand the difference between delusions and reality, since the adult they rely on for guidance cannot always tell the difference themselves. Some children of schizophrenic parents go on to develop post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their childhood experiences.

As with any child whose parent has a chronic disease, children of schizophrenic parents will face certain challenges and hardships. However, they are not doomed to have an unhappy childhood, especially if they have a good support system and a parent who is dedicated to managing their illness.