Making a Connection With Your Bedwetting Child
Parents who suffered from nighttime enuresis know how devastating the problem can be. When their child shows signs of having the same issues, parents are often in a quandary – will their child benefit from knowing they went through the same thing? Can it help build a sense of trust and normalcy for the child?
The Hereditary Connection
Dr. Lyle Danuloff, a clinical psychologist on staff at the Enuresis Treatment Center in Farmington Hills, Mich., agrees with the National Kidney Foundation findings that say if both parents were bedwetters, a child/teen has a seven in 10 chance of wetting the bed.
"At the Enuresis Treatment Center we know, after 33 years of experience, 99 percent of our bedwetting cases stem from the root cause: an inherited deep-sleep disorder," Dr. Danuloff says. "The brain sleeps so deeply that when signaled by the bladder that it's full, the brain cannot respond. The bladder empties involuntarily, and, as a result, symptoms begin to develop, such as an underdeveloped bladder capacity and a weak and desensitized sphincter muscle."
So while the scientific evidence hasn't found that bedwetting is genetic, sleep patterns and functional bladder capacity could certainly be inherited physiologic characteristics.
Does Telling Your Child Help?
Dr. Danuloff encourages parents to tell their children they understand because they also experienced the same problem.
"Sharing your own experiences with your child allows for them to feel some sense of comfort that they are not alone, and it fortifies their sense of being OK about themselves when they see their parent has moved through a similar challenge," Dr. Danuloff says. "Sharing yourself will give your child the freedom to share whatever may be bothering them about the bedwetting."
According to Dr. Danuloff, embarrassment often leads to silence. Bedwetters often live with feelings of fear of discovery, shame, low self-esteem and feeling different. "Very often the bedwetting child will suffer silently," he says. "Just because they don't talk about it doesn't mean it doesn't bother them." Sharing your experiences with your child can help draw him out and tell you what he is feeling about bedwetting.
Dr. Charles Shubin, director of pediatrics at the Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., agrees. "I think it is important for kids to know their parents went through the same thing because the kids then don't feel that they're so strange," Dr. Shubin says. "Also, the parents' own experiences, good and bad, certainly would help the parents understand what the child is going through and thus be able to help the child through it."
Dr. Shubin also believes that simply sympathizing and empathizing with the child by just letting her know that the parent truly understands what she's going through will help the child process her experiences.
Besides just helping parents be more understanding of their child's nighttime enuresis, having gone through the same thing also helps parents be more proactive in treating the problem.
Nicole Sherman from Townsend, Del., wet the bed until her late teens. She believes the experience helped her be more proactive in finding a solution for her child. "I didn't want her going through what I went through," Sherman says. "My parents were great, but they took the don't-talk-about-it-and-she'll-grow-out-of-it approach. I wanted to be more proactive about it with my daughter."
Talking to her daughter about her own experiences was a natural thing. "We talk about everything in our home so telling her about my own bedwetting wasn't a big deal," Sherman says.
Sherman used an alarm and her daughter was dry at night within a week. She believes that open discussion about her own issues and being proactive helped her daughter overcome nighttime enuresis.
Being honest with your children about your own childhood bedwetting helps them on several levels. It not only shows them that you understand what they are going through, but also provides a model of someone who has overcome the problem. And having experienced it also makes parents more proactive in treating the problem.