Palliative Parenting: A New Parenting Practice
“Palliate”: To ease symptoms or moderate intensity.*
Palliative Parenting: We parent with the primary intention to ease symptoms and improve quality of life, and to grow the connection between parents and children.
“We realize that regardless of where we are,
or what we’re making a decision about,
(medical, school, discipline, friends, activities, family life)
we’re making decisions about quality of life.”
– Jennifer Sevick, Licensed Independent Social Worker
The dominant modern parenting models focus on expectations, boundaries, consequences, goals, and achievement. Our approach, which we call Palliative Parenting, focuses on quite the opposite. We learn that improving the quality of our children’s lives, and encouraging the natural development of skills must be based not on our expectations, but on acceptance of what our kids are capable of in any given moment. We do not try to “cure” or change our children, but to help them live full, meaningful lives by leading with love and acceptance.
“We parent the whole child and make decisions
that give them the best quality of life.”
– Anne Reid, CMHRC Outreach Coordinator
The Palliative Parenting approach is designed to support both the child being parented as well as the parents doing the work of parenting.
Developed by CMHRC mental health professionals, Palliative Parenting focuses on improving quality of life for ourselves and our children, both in the moment and in the future. It starts with asking what is the child capable of and what are they actually able to do? We then work within that parameter and set more realistic parameters for them. Best of all, it’s a framework that anyone can use to start improving that quality of life immediately.
“It’s about being the parent that you would want
if you were in your child’s shoes.”
– Danielle Ott, CMHRC Family Support Advocate
The Three Aspects of Palliative Parenting
We accept that:
- Our children have an illness.
- We parent differently because their needs are different.
- We let go of our preconceived expectations for our children.
- We can’t protect our children from the pain of their illness, but we can make their daily lives better.
- When we make mistakes, we forgive ourselves.
“It can be as simple as doing what’s needed
for your child in the moment,
rather than what any outside expectations are.”
– Lisa LeMay, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- Our children are human beings first, with their own journeys.
- Our children’s symptoms are not willful or deliberate behaviors.
- We respond to our children’s symptoms with empathy and compassion.
- We model and teach self care.
- We strive for the highest possible quality of life for our kids.
“Palliative Parenting puts the focus back on what the child actually needs to thrive, which is a parent who is in the moment with them, helping them through their struggle, showing kindness, empathy, and acceptance.”
– Elizabeth Errico, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- Our children make positive contributions to the world.
- We advocate for awareness, acceptance, and accommodation.
- We are honest about our, and our children’s, strengths and weaknesses.
- We facilitate collaboration among our children’s support systems.
- We share strength, knowledge, and hope within our community.
“Palliative Parenting is a framework that releases parents from
the psychological prison of thinking there’s only one way to be a parent.”
– Jana Cupp, CMHRC Volunteer Coordinator
Ready to learning more about
Join CMHRC experts for an 8-week course in
We know just how challenging it can be to parent a child or teen with a mental illness. Our unique approach was developed by mental health professionals, parents, and adult patients who know first hand the lived experience of surviving and thriving with mental illness.
During live, face-to-face, videoconference, weekly sessions CMHRC experts will teach you how use each of these palliative principles in your parenting. In just a few short weeks you’ll be equipped to ease symptoms, reduce the frequency of outbursts, and improve quality of life for you and your children.