Q: Daughter Dating Someone with Bipolar
Our 16 year old daughter a "nice" girl is dating a 16
year old with Bi-polar. We like him and are trying our best to educate
ourselves on this. However, we do have some concerns/questions.
First on our concerns...most everything we read makes a comment about
sexual behaviours, but doesn't explain further. Could you please
expand...are we taking obsession, lack of sex drive, over agression i.e. date
rape, inappropriate public displays? In other words should we be "tuned
in" maybe a little more than most parents of 16 year olds?
As best we know he does seem to be doing all the "right" things for
his bi-polar. He was diagnosed at age 5 his father and uncle have it.
He takes his meds, eating and sleeping routines seem normal etc.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Dear Gayle --
As my kids aren't 16 yet, I don't know how much "tuning in" is
possible to sustain, as a parent. It looks to me as though when we get
there, I'll want to be as tuned in as possible (short of intrusive -- whoa,
I'll bet that is a fine line!) regardless of who's in the
picture. As for your question, though, I can understand your
concern. Perhaps it would help to know that I doubt (nothing in my
business comes with a guarantee, unfortunately) you'd ever see sexual acting
out without seeing something else that would alert you that his bipolar
disorder was no longer fully controlled, particularly if you know him pretty
well. You'd see accelerated speech, action, some evidence his thinking
or his emotional reactivity was different, something. The earliest sign
of all seems to be decreased need for or ability to sleep, but that would be
harder for you to see, of course.
wouldn't want to encourage too much vigilance as that is the kind of thing
that people with bipolar disorder struggle against, you know, i.e. a sense
that they are being judged and treated differently because they have this
illness. So, it sounds like you're trying to strike a balance there
between paying a reasonable degree of attention, perhaps just a bit more than
you might otherwise think to; versus pre-judging and intruding. I can
only guess what this is going to be like, as a parent, and already it looks
pretty nerve-wracking, so I can imagine this is quite a difficult balancing
act to do. Beyond that I fear I have little to add to help you. If
you find yourself struggling further over this, you could look for a local
child & adolescent psychiatrist who treats kids with bipolar disorder and
see if she/he is someone you feel comfortable talking with (ask for a
"one-time" consultation, offering to pay privately for same, if the
feel of the place is okay as you arrange this on the phone) -- and see if
someone with more direct experience in this area has something more to add to
Published September, 2001