Talking to Little Champs About Cancer
As a parent, one of your first thoughts after your cancer diagnosis may be, “How will this affect my family?”
You worry about talking to your kids and discovering they will become cancer champs as well. How do you start the conversation about cancer? How will they react? What if you don’t have all the answers?
These suggestions may help guide the conversation for your little cancer champs.
Conversation With Kids About Cancer
Should you talk to your champs about your cancer? Every family communicates differently. You’ll make the decision for what’s best. Understand a few things about talking openly with your kids about cancer:
- Kids at any age detect when something’s wrong.
- You want this important information to come from you, not be overheard from others.
- Open discussions, even about very difficult subjects, build strong relationships.
- Including your cancer champs in conversation builds trust with your kids.
How should you talk to your champs about your cancer diagnosis?
- Prepare information to match your child’s age. Younger children may need more general information. Older children may need more detail.
- Carve out quiet time where you won’t be interrupted.
- Choose who you’d like to be present. You may talk with your children with your spouse and/or decide to have a supportive family member or friend present as well.
- Anticipate specific questions your kids will have and prepare your answers. There will be some questions for which you aren’t prepared. It’s ok to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find the answer for you.”
- Prepare yourself for a range of emotional reactions based on the child’s age and maturity. These emotions may change throughout the course of your discussion and throughout your treatment. Acknowledge that all emotions are okay.
- Allow yourself to express some emotions. Though you don’t want to lose control in front of your children, it’s fine to shed a tear and express unease with the unknown.
- Not everything has to be discussed at one time. The discussion about cancer will be ongoing.
- For conversation with kids of any age, it’s important to state:
- It’s very rare the other parent will also get a serious disease.
- Cancer is not contagious.