12 Tips for Talking to Your Children about Cancer
By: CureDiva Guardian Diva, Nancy
- Decide who the best person is to tell your child/children – This might be the parent with the cancer diagnosis, the other parent or another family member (or close friend) entirely. I left all telling up to dear hubby. I just couldn’t do it.
- Pick the right moment to tell them – Although there is no good time to break the news, try to pick an appropriate moment to have the initial cancer discussion when you can devote the time and extra mental energy it will undoubtedly require.
- Start simple and go from there – Start with a simple explanation and then see what questions or concerns come up.
- Take the lead from each child – Offer reassurance as honestly as possible and always give each child an opportunity to state his or her feelings and ask questions. They might need to process the information for a while, so be sure to “check back in” frequently.
- Find the right balance for each child – You don’t need to tell every cancer detail, but don’t feel you must hold everything back, either.
- Every child is different – Remember each child, even in the same family, might need more or less information and that’s fine. It doesn’t always boil down to age. Some younger children might want and handle more information better than older ones.
- Refrain from over-protecting your children – Kids can handle a whole lot more than we think they can. They don’t necessarily need protection all the time from the bad things in life and trying to protect them may, in fact, be more harmful in the long run.
- There are resources available to help – Use them if you need guidance or suggestions.
- Don’t be afraid to seek professional help – Asking for help can be hard, and for some reason, sometimes asking for help after a cancer diagnosis can be even harder.
- It’s okay for them to see you vulnerable – Tell yourself as many times as necessary that it’s okay for your children to see you vulnerable. This one’s harder than it sounds.
- Don’t underestimate your children’s ability to cope – with your guidance, of course.
- Do the best you can – Remember, parenting before cancer is hard at times. Parenting during cancer treatment is hard at times. Parenting when cancer treatment ends will be hard at times, too.