Relating with Your Children and Teens

Your lymphoma experience has likely also been quite challenging for your children. If you have young children, they may struggle with this transitional time that may include you ending treatment and returning back to work. The change in routine and level of involvement from others can create uncertainty and you may notice pushback, heightened anxiety, sadness, or acting out behaviour. Give your children time to adjust as things gradually return to normal. What you decide to tell your children at this point in time will depend on what has already been shared so far. Remember to communicate honestly with them, listen to them, and make sure they understand what is happening. Take the time to explain things you don’t think they understand.

Here are some tips on how and what to communicate:

  • Explain to them what to expect over the next few weeks and months as you begin your recovery.
  • Provide information in small amounts and leave time for them to ask questions.
  • Answer their questions honestly; if you don’t know the answer you can always follow-up later.
  • You may need to repeat yourself depending on your child’s level of understanding.
  • Only share details about test results if something definite will change the dynamics at home.
  • Let them know about long-term side effects that you may experience which may make physical activities difficult for you (eg, inability to play soccer or swim, etc.). This will help them understand that your absence is not because you are unhappy with them.
  • Do not tell them about problems they cannot help with such as financial issues; however if these financial issues lead to drastic lifestyle changes, present this as a fact of life and teach them about facing obstacles.
  • Thank them for their help during treatment (eg, doing chores or helping with younger siblings) and let them know if you are now able to take on these roles again or if you would still appreciate their help.
  • Try to resolve any sibling tension that may have arisen during treatment (eg, one sibling taking charge over another).
  • Let them know and show them that you love them no matter what.

Most importantly, try to remember to spend extra time with your children and plan some fun activities that they may have missed during your treatment.

Teens

Teens may go through different issues during this stage of your lymphoma experience. They may feel embarrassed that their family is different because of lymphoma or they may become distant or angry. Depending on their age, they may even feel torn about leaving for university or college after high school. Similar to younger children, remember to stay involved and communicate with them.

If you do find it difficult to speak with your children or teens, help is available to you to facilitate these conversations.

References:

Cancer.Net. Sharing Your Story
Accessed June 9, 2014

National Cancer Institute. Facing Forward: When Someone You Love Has Completed Cancer Treatment. Talking with Your Family
Accessed June 9, 2014

National Cancer Institute. Facing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment. Social and Work Relationships
Accessed June 9, 2014