Explaining Cancer to Kids
I get asked a lot about how my two kiddos handled Scott being sick and how we, as their parents handled it. It’s not an easy thing and showing weakness and sadness to your kids at any time is hard but when you are dealing with something as HUGE as this –man I can’t even describe how hard it is/was. But Scott and I live a truthful life, and kids know what’s going on. So without causing fear or instability, we were honest about what was going on. But, honest in a young kid way.
And for us, the most important thing was to address their fears, but make sure they knew that their lives were not going to unstable. They would still go to school and their friends’ birthday parties. Just that someone else may be there to pick them up. And sometimes Dad won’t feel good. Like when they have a cold or fever and they want to just stay in bed and rest. So when he’s resting –that means you have to be respectful of that and not barge in. But we also said, like with any illness –some people get better and some don’t. Daddy WILL get better –so we just have to be patient, helpful and be his cheerleader. And of course gave them the room to talk about it as much as they want, ask questions as much as they want, see what was going on. We also told them sometimes they may see Mom or Dad sad and/or crying –it’s ok. This is tough to see someone you love in pain and it makes us sad.
Here are some more suggestions — but every case is different. You know your kids, so you have to adjust what and how you say anything based on them.
Children who are old enough to speak need to be told about a cancer diagnosis. Begin by identifying your illness by name without confusing euphemisms. Discuss how it will be treated and what will happen to you during treatment (losing your hair, feeling tired and so on). Tell them who will be taking them to soccer practice, cooking their meals and how their day-to-day lives may change.
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