Parents who have cancer face the added burden of choosing what and how to tell their children about cancer. Books, websites, social workers, support groups, and others can provide tips, but parents know their children best. They can find the best way to share information about their illness or that of another loved one such as a grandparent.
If you need to discuss cancer with your child, here are some suggestions that can help:
- Reassure your child. Help your children understand that their needs are important and will always be taken care of. Explain that their needs may be met by different people and in different ways than usual.
- Children often have incorrect ideas about cancer. Make sure they understand that they cannot catch cancer like they catch a cold. They also need to know that the cancer is not their fault or a result of anything they have done.
- Provide accurate information appropriate for each child's age. The Cancer Learning Center has books and handouts that can help you discuss cancer with young children.
- Empower your child. Help them express their feelings and deal with the disease in their own ways. Give them chances to ask questions about the disease and how you are feeling. Let them help you with age-appropriate tasks—even a very young child can bring a blanket, and older children can help with household chores.
For more information about telling children about cancer, contact the Patient and Family Support team at 801-585-9755.