How Do I Tell My Kids I Have Cancer?
This is a tough one. After the initial shock of being diagnosed, it’s important to inform your support team. Telling your partner is hard enough. Telling your kids can be heart breaking. We hope that we can help provide some guidance on how to work though this conversation.
First of all, all children should not get the same talk. Your child’s age plays a big factor in how detailed your information is. It is important to be honest, but in a way they can understand. Children are very used to routine. When the routine changes they can become scared, act out, or even become withdrawn. If you appropriately inform them, your journey will be a little less chaotic.
There are 4 basic things you should tell your child regardless of age:
- What the cancer is called – lung, breast, etc.
- Where it is in the body
- How it will be treated
- How it will effect them/their routine
Additionally, these items should end the conversation:
- No one caused the parent to get cancer. (It’s not the child’s fault.)
- You can’t catch cancer like a cold or the flu—it’s OK to hug or kiss the person with cancer.
- The family will work together to cope with cancer and its treatment.
- Even though the sick parent may not have as much time with them, the children are loved and will be taken care of while the parent is sick.
We recommend that you find a quite place with no disruptions and speak to each of your children individually so the conversation can be tailored by age. Remember that “cancer” is a scary word and is often associated with death. Tell your child that many people are cured of cancer every day. Let them low that doctors have learn a lot about cancer over the years and have helped millions of people become healthy again.
Your child might also be afraid that the other parent will get sick as well. It’s good to reiterate that this is not contagious and it will not spread to other family members including them.
Just like you, your kids will need some time to process this information. We recommend age appropriate books that will make the child more comfortable. The American Cancer Society has provided a list of children’s books that might be helpful.
They also have a full article on informing your child about your diagnosis. Click Here to read!
-brought to you by Cancer Rehabilitation Centers – Cancer Sucks, Go to rehab!