The child with rheumatic fever presents a problem that involves not only himself, his joints and his heart, but the entire family, the parents and the other children as well. All families normally have problems of various kinds; some manage them and some don't. But having a child come down with a serious long-term illness can mobilize these problems, can become the straw that breaks the camel's back. The child and his illness can become the focus not only of the related but all the unrelated and pent-up feelings in the family.The mother who was previously overprotective of her child will react to the illness in one way; the mother who previously neglected her child will react in another way. Some mothers feel that they must give up their former life entirely, friends and social activities, and devote their entire time to watching over the child and doing things for him. They are being "good" mothers. Others give up nothing, refuse to accept the fact that the child has rheumatic fever and completely ignore it. These I know sound like pretty extreme points of view, but I have found that it is not too rare to find mothers fitting into these pictures.
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