By Jodie Lynn
How much should a parent tell their children about a serious disease that has been confirmed? My sister just found out that she has developed cancer and is undergoing tests and various treatments. Should she wait until more results are completed or go ahead and talk to them about what has been diagnosed and keep them abreast of future recommendations and health information?
ANSWER FROM READER:
When I was nine, my mom got breast cancer. She and my dad sat my brother and I down and tried to enlighten us about what was taking place. We didn't understand much of what we were told but we did become scared of her possibly going away forever. It took a while, maybe eight months, but things turned out fine. However, for a long time after, both of us didn't even want to leave the house for fear of hearing devastating news about either our mom and/or our dad when we returned. We were robbed of our childhood and lost sleep for years. Hopefully, your sister will give it additional time and find out more details before she shares her news. - L. P. in Los Angeles, CA
This is a highly sensitive subject, especially when explaining it to children. In today's society we have a habit of instantly jumping online and researching things that we do not understand to get more information, which almost always leads to seeking examples of the mystery that has suddenly upset the normalcy in our life. We are looking for anything that will bring clarity to the situation. Depending on the ages and maturity level of your sister's children, they may or may not fully comprehend what is taking or has taken place and what the future may or may not bring. They may even take it upon themselves to jump to conclusions or to talk to friends. It's a personal choice that basically belongs to your sister. If done too soon, it could quite possibly be detrimental to everyone concerned. If she feels comfortable talking to them about it, then it will be helpful for her to speak to her doctor first and seek guidance on a strategic plan for the ages of the children. Her physician may advise her to wait until more tests have been done in order to not only arm her with updated information, but also to help provide her with the best discussion for the kids.
CAN YOU HELP?
My two children, ages four and six, have always adored their uncle, who is my youngest brother. He was recently in a bad motorcycle accident that has left his face disfigured and a noticeable limp in his right leg. Even though he has undergone several surgeries, his face looks very scary to them to the point that they are afraid to be around him. This is quite devastating to him as well as the rest of the family. How is the best way to help them understand that he is basically the same fun-loving uncle that they have always loved and not a freaky monster?
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