Episode 49: Mothering & Mental Illness (Your Kids Are Going to be Okay)

On Episode 49 of the Mama Bear Dares Podcast, co-hosts Tesi and Leslie speak to Cathy Engstrom, a mom of three, a runner, and an all-around lovely woman. As the women discuss Cathy's life, they focus on the strength she has shown while parenting one child with a learning disability and one child with mental illness.

Cathy is honest about both the struggle and the beauty of being a mom to kids who require her Mama Bear to advocate on their behalf every single day. The women celebrate the engaged Mama Bear who is awake not only to the larger world around her, but who realizes that changing the world starts at home. Cathy offers a unique perspective, incredible wisdom, and hope to mothers who are struggling through the ups and downs of parenting children with various needs.

Other topics discussed on the podcast:

  • How to approach teachers, school administrators, and your child's school district as a whole, even when it seems overwhelming to do so
  • Depression, anxiety, attachment disorders, dyslexia, and dysgraphia
  • The importance of allowing yourself to grieve if a child is diagnosed with a disability or illness
  • The importance of self care (hint: People magazine for the win!)
  • The dignity and relief of being honest when it comes to talking about the circumstances of mental illness within your community
  • The ways we can help other mothers who are caring for children with a diagnosis

* A special thanks to Lily and Carver for allowing their mom to share their stories on the podcast. We are positive that their bravery and openness will provide a light for others! *


For mamas who have just received a learning disability diagnosis or see red flags, Cathy recommends the following:

  1. Your local school district's website. (Not your school; the school district.) Start clicking on links to special education, etc., and get some phone numbers for help.
  2. www.ldonline.org
  3. www.ldaamerica.org/parents

For mental health, Cathy recommends the following resources:

  1. www.nimh.gov
  2. www.careforyourmind.org
  3. THIS article on what to do if you can't afford mental health care.

This essay by Jillian Flynn: Dear Parents of Well-Behaved Children

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As always, thanks to Wunderkind for the beats!