Multiple sclerosis & parenting
Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis has a big impact on the whole family. Whether you have children before or after your diagnosis, many parents living with multiple sclerosis face similar issues.
These issues may include:
- how and when to tell your children you have multiple sclerosis
- how to explain what’s happening when you’re experiencing symptoms
- coping with symptoms at the same time as parenting — particularly fatigue
- dealing with guilt
- difficulty planning for the future.
Consider these tips for parents:
- Foster open and honest communication, but ensure it’s appropriate for the children’s ages.
- Be honest about your limitations, and ask for help that’s appropriate to your children’s ages.
- If your children are young, encourage them to get involved in the MS Readathon — it can be a gentle way to promote discussion and learning.
- Consider taking the family to one of our MS Family Camps (more information below) to learn more about multiple sclerosis and meet other families who live with the disease.
- Identify and foster the activities your children enjoy doing with you.
- Ensure that your children are prepared for any changes that might affect them, such as when you have to go into hospital. Consider preparing a plan with them so they know who’ll be taking care of them and so they have the opportunity to express any concerns or fears.
We have several publications with more information about multiple sclerosis and parenting, such as our Family Matters series, Deciding on motherhood information booklet, Has your mum or dad got MS? booklet and Changes and Feelings booklet. To obtain a copy of the Changes and Feelings booklet, please contact MS Connect 1800 042 138.
Talking to your children
When you are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis knowing how to talk to your children can be challenging. This webinar recording explores the how, when and why of talking to your children and helping them learn about MS.
Webinar handouts : Talking to your children
MS Family Programs
Our MS Family Events are fun-filled and educational programs for parents living with multiple sclerosis and their primary or secondary school–aged children.
They’re a great opportunity to meet and share experiences with other families and learn more about multiple sclerosis, understand its impact on family life, and strengthen your relationships as a family — all in a fun and relaxed environment.
MS Family Wellness Days
A family wellness event for primary school aged children and their parent with multiple sclerosis.
Wellness is an important concept for people living with a chronic illness and applies to all family members.
The Tangled Maze Family Fun & Wellness Day Springmount, VIC Wednesday 5 April 9.30am - 3.00pm
Taronga Zoo Family Fun & Wellness Day Mossman, NSW Tuesday 11 April 9.30am-1.00pm
Please contact MS Connect™ (Freecall 1800 042 138 or email email@example.com) for more information.
Please note that because space is limited, families who have not attended previous camps will be given priority.
A large, genetic study was conducted in 2012 by Professor Simon Broadley and his colleagues at Griffith University and the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania. The research teams combined the results of 18 studies from throughout the world to provide definitive figures about the risk of multiple sclerosis in relatives of people who have the disease.
In the general population worldwide, the risk of multiple sclerosis is about 1 in 1,000 and in this study was calculated to be 0.16 per cent. The number varies depending on where you live and your ethnicity. Professor Broadley and his team calculated the risk of developing multiple sclerosis in each class of relative, using age-adjusted data taken from studies of incidence of multiple sclerosis in families. They found that:
- in identical twins, who share all their genetic make-up, the risk of multiple sclerosis in the second twin over his or her lifetime is 18.2 per cent
- siblings have a 2.7 per cent chance of developing the disease
- non-identical twins, who have the same proportion of genes in common as siblings, have a lifetime risk of 4.6 per cent
- parents of people who have multiple sclerosis have a 1.5 per cent likelihood of developing the disease whereas children of people who have multiple sclerosis have a 2.1 per cent likelihood
- aunts and uncles have a 0.8 per cent risk, nieces and nephews 1 per cent, and cousins 0.7 per cent.
For more information, visit www.msra.org.au
If you’d like to have a chat with one of our MS Specialists about multiple sclerosis and parenting, please contact MS Connect™ (Freecall 1800 042 138 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Pregnancy and MS
MS Limited conducted a webinar in July/2015 with Dr. Anneke Van Der Walt which focused on pregnancy and MS*.
Dr. Van Der Walt covered the following questions:
Further reading & resources
* Always consult with your GP for individual advice on your particular situation and needs.
- Does MS affect my fertility?
- How does pregnancy affect MS?
- Will I get attacks?
- Will I be more likely to become secondary progressive?
- Does pregnancy cause multiple sclerosis?
- Does my MS affect pregnancy outcomes?
- What happens to my medication during pregnancy?
- Can I breastfeed?
- What is the risk of my child to have MS?