I have two girls 9 and 5 years old. I know my 5 year old doesn't understand what is happening to her Daddy, but she does ask all the really tough questions. I thought my 9 year old understood how sick her Daddy was, until last week when she asked him a question that started "Dad when your cancer is gone can we . . ." I am trying to keep thier lives as normal as possible, and I don't want to scare them, but I think they need to know just how serious his cancer is. If any one has any suggestions on how I can help them to better understand how sick their Daddy really is I would appreciate it. - Colleen
Colleen, I think I am speaking from experience since my son is 10, only difference is that I am the one with the disease
What I have found is that kids will process this kind of "news" as their emotional and psychological maturity will allow. At this point your daughters are doing just that. LET THEM. They know how serious his cancer is, that is, they know on the level of a 9 and 5 year old. The statements such as "when your cancer is gone" is perfectly normal, think about it, don't you have friends and family that say pretty much the same thing? you know, "you'll beat it", "praying for a miracle", etc etc.
What I have come away with in my experience with my son are the following:
*Children will process what they are able to and will give you signals when they are ready for more. My son eventually asked me "Mom, are you going to die?" He is much too smart to be fooled by the "we'll all die someday" BS, so I told him the truth, that the cancer I had was very bad and that I probably wouldn't be around as long as I want, but that the doctors and I were doing everything we could so that he and I could stay together.
*Children deserve the truth, but they don't need to be beaten up with it. Ask yourself why it is so important they know how sick their father is at this moment. Remember that denial is one of the stages of grief. I know that one of the reasons I wanted to make sure my son knew was because school was starting in a couple of weeks and there was no way that this kind of news can be kept secret. How would he react when the first adult hugged him and said how sorry they were about his mom. As sad as it was for me to hear, I also knew that he "got it" when he asked the kids in his class to "pray for my Mom, she has a disease that's called cancer". The fact that he is able to talk about it outside our home is a triumph in my book.
*Children need to know that they will be safe. I think that right now your oldest daughter is going through the "If I close my eyes the bad monster will go away". If she talks about what happens when Daddy doesn't have cancer any more, the cancer will go away. My advice would be to let her do that, but inject a little reality in your answers. Not "DON'T YOU GET IT, THE CANCER ISN'T GOING AWAY!!!!" but "well, we hope that Daddy's cancer goes away but it might not. What can we do now with Daddy that we don't have to wait?"
My son really needed to be reassured that I was going to be his Mom. Without going into the gory details, my son has severe abandonment issues and this has been one of the hardest things for me to grapple with. His psychologist told me to remember that there is a difference between adandonment and loss. I am not abandoning him, but he will be losing me. But he also knows that I will ALWAYS be his mom and that he will ALWAYS be my son, and that we carry each other in our hearts forever. We give thanks every day for the time we have together, In fact we say "Every day is a blessing"
Well, I have babbled and babbled, all with good intentions, but probably did a lousy job BUT, I did find a couple of really good web sites that give basically the same advice I have tried to, but explained much better than I did:
These are pamphlets from an organization called CancerCare for Kids:
http://www.cancercare.org/pdf/booklets/ … ildren.pdf
http://www.cancercare.org/pdf/fact_shee … ren_en.pdf
By the way CancerCare is a great organization and offers counseling and other help: 1-800-813-HOPE (4673)
Another organization is Cancerbackup, they are based in the UK I believe. Good article on how to talk to your kids about your cancer:
http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Resource … yourcancer
also how to talk to them if you aren't going to recover:
http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Resource … gtorecover
Best of luck and keep me posted, we are all in this together!