May 15, 2008

When a Parent or Grandparent is Diagnosed With Cancer


Be age-appropriate. Use words that are common and familiar and children will have an easier time understanding cancer and what to expect. Use simple and concrete terms. For example, you might say: “Grandma is sick with an illness called cancer. The cancer happened on its own; nobody did anything to make it happen. She has very good doctors, and is doing everything possible to get better.” Finding out what they might have heard about cancer is helpful so you can clear up any misinformation.

Be honest. From the time of diagnosis be honest about the cancer and the treatment. Keep the children informed by having frequent conversations. This will help them feel safe and secure. Request they come to you with any questions or worries and explain that you will tell them the truth and if you don’t know always know the answers you will try to find them out.

Explain that cancer is never anyone’s fault. Pre-school aged children may have “magical thinking.” They believe that if they say or think something, it can come true. That’s why it is so important to let children know that nothing they did or said caused the cancer.

Explain that cancer is not contagious. Young children often think of being sick in terms of catching germs. Let them know they can’t catch cancer like a cold. Tell them they can still hug and kiss each other just like always.

All feelings are okay. No matter what their age, it’s important to let children know that what they are feeling is normal and okay. Encourage them to talk and share their feelings. Help them find appropriate ways to express themselves such as drawing or painting a picture.

May 5, 2008

A Favorite Parenting Quote

“Good parents give their children Roots and Wings. Roots to know where home is, wings to fly away and exercise what’s been taught them.” – Jonas Salk

This quote has great significance to me as my daughter will be graduating from Belmont University this weekend. She will continue to live and work in Nashville so the above quote is relevant. Watching her strike out on her makes me proud and gives me a sense of personal satisfaction as I see that my parenting goal of enabling her to be confident and self-sufficient has come to fruition.

I wonder which one of us, Emilie or I, will be standing taller Saturday at graduation.

May 2, 2008

May is Mental Health Month

Mental Health Month was created more than 50 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for all. This year’s theme is focused on an essential component of maintaining and protecting mental health and wellness: social connectedness. The tagline for this year’s observance is “Get Connected.” There are many ways of creating connections that support mental health:

* Get connected to family and friends to feel close and supported.
* Get connected to your community to feel a sense of belonging and purpose.
* Get connected to professional help to feel better when you’re stressed and having trouble coping.

This link has information on Helping Children Grow Up Healthy: