Speak to Your Children

Speak to Your Children

Editor’s note: Stuart Smith is married to Ellen Lenox Smith—a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report. This is how he discusses his relationship with Ellen, who has written extensively on her battle with EDS.

Here’s how they describe the mission.

Stuart and Ellen Lenox Smith

“We have spent years seeking treatments both conventional and non-conventional for Ellen’s rare condition. While better pain management is the immediate goal our web site, the goal is emotional and yes, spiritual renewal. Without effective pain management, chronic pain sufferers often lose hope and any sense of meaning and dignity in their lives. Our efforts are directed at improving pain management, thus allowing for personal renewal and the most essential element to wellbeing, a sense of hope.”

I was raised in a family with a traditional structure to include one set of parents and two sets of grandparents. Due to the geographic locations of my grandparents, our contact was somewhat limited. Looking back at my childhood, I realize that while there was a strong emotional attachment among family members, emotions were not communicated in a healthy manner. Perhaps this was due to this era but for whatever reason, I now realize the result of this minimal communication, I never really had the opportunity to know and understand my grandparents. Issues that may have dredged up strong emotions were avoided. For example, one of my grandfathers was a minister and he took his own life before I was born. Both of my grandmothers suffered from physical disabilities which were never discussed in private or as a general topic of family conversation. The result was that now, as an older adult, I realize the loss I suffered in not really knowing or understanding my most important relatives, my grandparents.

I think that somehow my parents felt that they were protecting me and my sisters from the discomfort of sharing the pain and suffering of loved ones. Unfortunately, this failed as I feel more pain over this unintended loss of deeply understanding what my grandparents may have felt. This lack of understanding, I now realize, was a clear impediment to deepening a healthy emotional relationship with all the pain and rewards which accompany this type of connection.

So, speak to your children. Emotional discomfort is part of life. Healthy relationships require directness and honesty. Don’t leave the skeletons in the closet with your children. They will almost certainly suffer from not understanding in the long run.

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Authored by: Stuart B. Smith

Stuart B. Smith is the C0-director of Cannabis Advocacy for US Pain Foundation.

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My grandson is very aware and, at 4 years old, would have been my best advocate at my disability hearing. By letting him know my limits, he’s very understanding when I need a break (we use the timer in my phone) and then we can enjoy the time in between so much more. They are never too young to discuss the issues (age appropriately).


My kid knew everything I was going through - that I was in constant pain, that I was depressed bc I was in constant pain and especially when my meds got unceremoniously and immediately cut off after several years at a stable dose. It put her in a mental hospital for her own overwhelming anxiety. It eventually led to her moving in w relatives bc off stable meds I am in constant uncontrolled pain.

This article is not a PSA. It should be a warning.

Rosalind Rivera

Speak with your children. That’s all well and good. The problem with that is that after a while they become deaf to what you are saying and this is especially true if you are talking about emotional, physical pain or both. I know this firsthand because although I knew one set of grandparents I really wasn’t concerned with their health and as for my parents, after a while I began avoiding my father even though he was very kind and loving. His alcoholism became an embarrassment to me. My mother’s constant complaints, which were all truly valid simply didn’t get my interest as they once had. This all changed when I turned 17. I married young and before i turned 21 had 3 children of my own. Now my parent’s health became of paramount importance to me and I tended to their every complaint and every need.
Unfortunately, I have not been dealt the same fortunate hand. My own three children at one point simply would tell me to just get up. According to them, I was just lazy! I actually was in too much pain to get up and of course my chronology c depression contributed greatly to my avoidance of people. I still avoid any relationships or friendships. I’ve become very isolating and by the way, I’ve also been abandoned by all 3 of my chronic ladren. They all got tired of my psin!

Jess Agee

First I wanna say how sorry I am for the loss of your grandfather, that truly breaks my heart.

I live with several chronic pain conditions which all started with a cervical spinal fusion in 2007. I never felt I recovered from that surgery & it lead to nerve damage, cervical arthritis, ddd, fibromyalgia / CFS, osteoarthritis of my hips, knees & shoulders. I have 2 more herniated disk above my plate in my neck.

I’m 40 now & my kids are 17 , almost 20 & 21. My oldest is autistic. My husband has his share of health issues too. He has Crohns, bipolar disorder & heart disease. My kids were really young when my pain all started back in 06’ & I remember being so sad that I couldn’t be the wife or parent I wanted to be. I couldn’t even work. So this lead to pretty bad depression & it still haunts me to this day, bc family outside my household doesn’t understand & some thinks I’m pure lazy & that hurts deeply. Especially after losing my 35 yr old brother in 2017 the day bf thanksgiving, from an OD which I feel it was from being taken off his medication in 2016 after the cdc guidelines was put out. Not long after he tried to end his life & ended up in the ICU & we did get another year with him. He was in so much mental & physical pain. After his passing is when my family fell apart. However my kids, my husband & I held a strong bond bc I was really open about our pain & illnesses. Plus having an autistic son , my family knew what it’s like to have a family with different disabilities. So I really do agree this helps. I’m thankful for my understanding family I do have , which is my 3 kids & husband.