It’s important to be honest with teenagers about your fears and worries. That’s because teenagers are smart: Even if you don’t tell them what you’re worried about, at some point they’ll figure it out. The following guidelines can help as you share some of your fears:
Talk about your fears in a way that causes the least amount of worry for your child.
Your children will learn how to deal with their fears by watching how you cope with yours.
Try not to lean on your teen as the key person to help you, even if your child seems grown-up and able to handle it. If you’re feeling very upset or afraid, look for support first from your partner, a friend, a member of your health care team, or your clergy instead – not your child.
Sharing your fears
You need to strike a balance between being open and honest with teens, and thinking about how your own fears will affect them. Here are some ideas:
Let your children know that you’re thankful for their help.
Tell teens that other people are also helping you, and that you won’t have to rely on your children for all of your needs.
Let teens know that you don’t want to hide your fears from them. Tell them that it’s okay to ask questions.
Let them know about the good things in your life that keep you going: Your children and family, your healthy outlook on the future, your good doctors, new treatments, and your personal strengths.
Even though you may want to talk about your fears, your teens may say that they don’t want to hear it. That’s normal, and their feelings will probably change from day to day. Teenagers are able to tell you how much worry and fear they can handle. Ask them.
American Cancer Society. (2005). Helping children when a family member has cancer. www.cancer.org.
Blum, D. CancerCare Connect. (2005) Helping children when a family member has cancer. Retrieved 6/30/08 from www.cancercare.org.
Harpham, W. (1997). When a parent has cancer: a guide to caring for your children. New York: HarperCollins.
National Cancer Institute (n.d.) When someone in your family has cancer. Retrieved 7/1/08 from www.cancer.gov.