When a separated couple is addressing a child custody dispute, and one of the parents has a mental illness, it is not uncommon for the other parent to try to use the mental disorder as a “trump card.” The underlying logic would be that a parent with a mental illness is “less fit” as a parent than one without a mental illness. The fact is, if a parent is struggling with mental illness, and not properly managing it by following the advice of professional care providers, a child may be adversely affected.
However, if the parent is properly managing their diagnosis and complying with the care recommendations of their psychiatrist and/or psychologist, the other parent may be off-base to try to use it as an advantage. Many mental illnesses are hereditary, so it may be problematic for children to hear one parent speak negatively of mental health challenges that the children may themselves confront.
More importantly, if a parent is properly managing their mental illness, that may present a positive – not a negative – as it pertains to good parenting. Meeting the challenge of addressing mental illness often requires a focus on all aspects of one’s health, and may provide better insight as a parent on how to model healthy behavior for one’s children.