The Mighty Logo

To Parents Raising a Child With OCD

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

To the parents raising kids with obsessive compulsive disorder,

It’s going to be OK.

I know it might not seem like it right now, but it will be. Perhaps your child has just been diagnosed with OCD. Or maybe your child’s been diagnosed for years, but symptoms are flaring up again. Maybe your child’s on the seemingly infinite waiting lists for psychiatric help. Wherever your family is in the journey of OCD, it’s going to be OK.

With help, there is hope.

Know you didn’t cause your child’s OCD, just like parents of kids with physical illnesses didn’t cause their kids’ illnesses. No one blames parents of kids with physical illnesses for their child’s illness. But sadly, in our society, some see mental illness as a sign of weakness.

It’s anything but that.

Remember it’s OK to not have all the answers. No one has all the answers when it comes to OCD, or any illness. There are plenty of books, websites, and organizations that are here to help support you and your family. Take advantage of them.

Don’t get discouraged by setbacks. If your child has a setback, that means progress had been made. Don’t forget to praise small successes. It may seem like a tiny thing to delay a compulsion for five seconds, but even in five seconds, the OCD is learning your child can fight back.

Telling OCD “no” is, in my experience, one of the hardest things to do. Imagine an anxious feeling so terrible it feels like you have no choice but to listen to it, like it may make you pass out from fear. Now imagine telling that awful, horrendous feeling, “No.”

That’s an amazing accomplishment.

Some days are hard. I know you already know this, but it’s worth repeating. Bad days don’t last forever, and how your child feels at their worst moment is not how they’ll feel forever. Stress usually makes illnesses worse, and OCD is no exception. In my experience (and the experiences of people I know with OCD) stress can make old obsessions come back, in addition to new ones, bringing with it the hallmark anxiety and compulsions.

OCD never tells the truth, but it makes your child’s fears seem like they’re guaranteed to come true. If your child slips up and does a compulsion, don’t get discouraged. It’s impossible to be on top of the game 100 percent of the time.

Family education is essential. For some people with OCD, reassurance is a compulsion. Compulsions, while they make the person with OCD feel better initially, only feed the cycle, and the obsessions come back stronger the next time.

There is so much hope for people with OCD, especially kids. It’s going to be OK. It may not seem like it right now, but it will be. With help, there is hope.

You can do this.

From, a 17-year-old who’s had OCD for 10 years.

Originally published: December 5, 2015
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home