Raising a child who has sexually acted out with another child can be quite stressful for caregivers. In addition, many of these youths have been traumatized, adding to the complexity and concern for the children. Of the hundreds of families for whom we have provided services, most of the caregivers are so focused on supporting and caring for their children that they forget how important it is to take care of themselves, too. Your children need you to take care of yourself. You are their role model. If you don’t take care of yourself, they can’t learn how to be healthy people. If you don’t take care of yourself, your energy will be taxed, which may impact your ability to parent well. You will be a better caregiver if you have the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy to meet the needs of the children in your care. It is important for you and your children that you

  • eat a healthy diet;
  • get enough sleep;
  • do something enjoyable for yourself on a regular basis (such as sports, crafts, painting, or socializing);
  • exercise regularly;
  • create time with other adults during which you can talk about concerns you might have, without your children in earshot (they have radar!);
  • have a support system;
  • don’t turn to alcohol or drugs when under stress;
  • have a way to deal with stress that is healthy for you;
  • identify family members and/or friends who can provide support; and
  • find supportive adults in the community, such as at local faith communities, neighborhood groups, or community agencies.

Parenting is hard. Children do not come with a manual or rule book to let you know how to raise them. Children are a delight and can make each day special, but sometimes, life becomes so hectic and stressed that we fail to recognize this fact. If you have tried to adhere to the above list, but still find that informal supports are not enough, seek professional supports such as the following:

  • Parenting support groups
  • Parent education programs
  • Systems of Care (an organization designed to help families with children who have multiple needs; the organization helps identify and coordinate financial, mental health, physical health, and other supports for the family)
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Medications (such as antidepressants)
  • Substance abuse services
  • Domestic violence shelters and services

As a caregiver for a child with problematic sexual behaviors, you are taking the first important steps to help your child and all of your family. By reading this website, you have given yourself a foundation of knowledge about sexual development and problematic sexual behaviors, and you have learned ways to prevent future problematic sexual behaviors. Remember, you are not alone. Effective treatments to reduce your child’s future risk are available for you.

For more information see Resources including ParentTalk Newsletter http://www.stopitnow.org/parenttalk

Tips to Remember
1 Raising a child with problematic sexual behavior can be quite stressful.
2 It is important for yourself and your children to take care of yourself.
3 Work to eat well, exercise, and do other activities that are supportive to you.
4 Seek professional help when feeling overwhelmed or otherwise in need.