Depression and mental health telling your kids mommy is sad

Depression and Mental Health: Telling your kids mommy is sad

Speaking openly and honestly about depression and mental health is crucial in this day and time because so many of us deal with the darkness, the sadness, the disease ourselves.  If you don’t, I am sure you know someone who does.

But how do we have this open conversation with our kids? Our young kids. How do you talk about depression and mental health without scaring your children?

Depression and Mental Health: Telling your kids mommy is sad

How do we start the conversation and tell them “mommy is sad” without causing unneeded worry and fright? When is the proper age to begin speaking honestly to our children about issues we as parents face daily?

Someone I consider a friend and fellow-writing buddy is asking herself this question and has given us her smart and creative words to bring awareness to the issue of depression and mental health.

Mia Sutton paints the picture of depression and how she handles it in her home with her children. She discusses when she should tell her kids “mommy is sad”.


“What’s wrong, Mommy?”

“Oh nothing, baby. I’m just tired.”

I quickly wipe away my tears and plaster a smile on my face. I don’t want to alarm my oldest son, a sweet, sensitive boy who worries too much. He looks at me a moment longer – as if, even at his age, he knows I’m not telling him something.

Depression and Mental Health: Telling your kids mommy is sad

I take a shuddering breath and tell myself to snap out of it. This depressive funk has to end sometime… right?

“Aren’t you hungry, Mom? You aren’t eating lunch with us again.”

“I’m really not hungry, sweetheart. I’m fine, thank you.”

How do I say to him that I don’t have an appetite and haven’t for days now. It’s all I can do to get up and cook a meal for him and his brother sometimes. I hear the knock on the proverbial door from reality – it’s getting more and more persistent. And my children are getting more observant that something isn’t quite right.

Each time I hold back from talking about my depression with my kids, I feel like it’s a missed opportunity. To share what it’s about, to show that it happens to people – real people that they know. But I also struggle with how much is too much? And how soon is too soon?

I think about the men I want my boys to grow into. About the friends, husbands, fathers they’ll be someday. And I think to myself, shouldn’t I equip them with the tools and lessons of what real life can be like? To arm them with the compassion to know that we are all walking hard paths in life?

And then I look at their sweet, innocent faces and I tell myself, not yet. As someone who had to face certain unpleasant (to say the least) realities at a very young age, I want to spare them from that a little longer if I can.

Depression and Mental Health: Telling your kids mommy is sad


















Balancing the need to protect my kids and the need to be transparent in an effort to remove the stigma from mental illness is an internal war I face every day.

Depression and Mental Health: Telling your kids mommy is sad

There are people who ask me why I share my struggles with depression and mental health so openly. That it’s a personal issue and why would I want the world to know all about my business? And I always tell them that it’s my duty to spread the message, to let others know they aren’t alone, it’s not their fault. Silence and shame about mental health issues have gone on for far too long.

And then I will afterwards feel like a hypocrite when I don’t open up to my own children. I wonder, will they think less of me? Will mom be less of a superhero in their eyes? I don’t want them to feel like they have to carry this burden for me or feel obligated to “cheer me up”. Or that they will somehow think it’s their fault that I’m “sad”.

Things are still pretty simplistic in their world. Right and wrong and yes and no. But I’m trying to introduce more of the gray areas. To open their minds and to explain that life and people can’t be contained into neat little boxes. And that’s a good thing.

Depression and Mental Health: Telling your kids mommy is sad

So, I’m slowly planning how to approach the topic and how the conversation will take place. How much detail I should go into and what is OK to leave out. I’m researching resources out there that might help a 6- and 8-year-old comprehend depression and mental illness. But most of all, I’m walking my talk. Mental illness shouldn’t be swept under the rug. Kids can handle a little bit of reality. I think it will only serve to make them more encouraging, kind, and knowledgeable kids.

Parenting doesn’t come with a manual. It’s hard to know right now whether or not I’m doing the right thing. But my gut tells me that honesty is still the best policy. That there isn’t anything to be gained from an environment of secrecy. And maybe they’ll draw on our discussion later in life and remember the moment when mom opened up, bared her soul, and showed her flaws.

She is only human, after all.


She is only human, after all. #miasuttonblog #dedradaviswrites Click To Tweet

Depression and Mental Health: Telling your kids mommy is sad



I would like to thank Mia for writing such intriguing and personal words about a crucial subject many face daily. Being a parent is hard enough without dealing with a tender issue and subject like depression and mental health.  It is important to bring this illness to the surface and talk about it openly, always. But with children? When and what words do you use to explain to the that their mommy is sad.

It is also important to remember it is okay, to not be okay! Read my words on the subject here.

Depression and Mental Health: Telling your kids mommy is sad


Mia Sutton is a writer, blogger, and poet. She’s also the Editorial Manager for Holl & Lane Magazine. A lifelong word nerd, she appreciates storytelling in all its forms. In her spare time, she likes to eat donuts and watch cheesy action movies with her husband and two sons. Follow along with Mia on Twitter or read her thoughts on her blog .

Parenting doesn’t come with a manual. It’s hard to know right now whether or not I’m doing the right thing. #miasuttonblog Click To Tweet

I hope for you today nothing but blue skies–and no blue days.  I hope for you understanding towards those who face the blue days.

love and blessings~dd


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I am a late-in-life journalist that is God-fearing, husband-loving, with three beautiful grown children. I love my dogs, my family and my friends. I love traveling and am also in the process of discovering Waco, after living 20 minutes away since 1998; it is about time! My goal is to grow and push myself daily.

22 thoughts on “Depression and Mental Health: Telling your kids mommy is sad”

    1. Mia, THANK YOU for writing a guest post for my blog. It’s such an important question you have posed and you have us all thinking about it. And that’s a good thing. Thank you, again!

  1. Wonderful post Mia! I have generalized anxiety disorder. My son is only 3 but he is starting to understand that sometimes mommy has a bad day and I’ve started just explaining in the most basic terms I can. I want to be open and honest with him too and hope that if he ever has similar issues he won’t be afraid to tell me.

    1. Beth, Mia did a wonderful job, didn’t she? So honest and you can feel her yearning to be honest with her boys. I know she will find the perfect time for both her and her children. Thank you for reading!

  2. Glad to hear you are open about this situation. Having been a teacher of young children for a long time you are correct to only give them the info that is appropriate at the age. If you make a big deal of it they will think it’s a big deal. If you don’t, they won’t. If you aren’t hungry, you aren’t hungry. If you are sad, you are sad. It doesn’t need to be wrong. If you had diabetis there are things you would need to do to take care of your health. Same thing. You are taking care of your health. Ultimately, a great model for kids. We all have to or should be taking care of our health…it means something different for all of us. I wish you well!!! Good for you.

    1. Julia, Writing and speaking openly about this important subject is so vital and important right now, isn’t it. Mia has her hands full and I wish her luck, also. This is a hard parenting issue but I know Mia will handle it beautifully and in a healthy way for her and her kids. Thank you for reading!!

      1. You are welcome. I agree writing and speaking about it openly is key. It minimizes the sting. Plus, it helps create community which is needed and possible solutions. I wish Mia well@

  3. I think it’s so important for kids and teens to learn about depression and mental illness. I’m not sure how it should be worded, but I do think that kids at a certain age should learn about it. Thank you Mia for sharing this post.

    1. Emily, thank you for reading Mia’s beautiful, honest words. She writes freely about an issue so many deal with daily. Such an important question for parents who have depression.

  4. I love this post. My son is 8 and I too suffer from depression. I would like to be as transparent as possible. I’ve also been thinking a lot about how to explain to my son that his dad(my exhusband) is an alcoholic and that is why he is not around him. I don’t know how to explain that.

    1. Kimberly, That is a lot for a child at eight. That is a lot for you! I am sorry you two have all that load. So, have you told him yet? Good luck, if you haven’t. I hope you find the perfect words to help him understand. Thank you so much for reading.

    1. Neely, thank you so much for reading. And, yes, it is okay. People, me included, feel they need to be “on” and feeling happy all the time. This needs to change.

  5. It is so important that each of us begin to discuss mental health. It is no different that a physical ailment and with discussion with children, my hope is someday it will not be taboo.

    1. Sheryl, you are right–it should not be taboo and we should be able to discuss it openly. I always think of those who live with this disease alone, in silence. That’s not right, is it? Thank you so much for reading!

  6. Hi, Dedra! I’m a fellow Hope*Writer, and I also work for, a Christian parenting site. I appreciate this post so much – and I know our readers at would be encouraged by it, too. Would you let us republish this post on our site? We’ll give you full credit as author, link back to the original post, and include your bio and head shot. What do you think? 🙂 Please let me know if you have any questions and if you’re interested! Thank you!

    Mary Carver

    1. Thank you for reading and for the offer. I would love that! You have my permission. Can you also make sure Mia’s information is included. She wrote the main body of the post as a guest blog for me.

      Thank you again. Let me know when it posts and I will social media market it!

Thanks for reading! What did you think?