Perhaps one of the most difficult issues a parent faces during family illness or death is how to help our children, whether they are in preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, or college. It can be overwhelming to feel that we need to protect our children but don't know what to do. This is especially difficult in high stress circumstances surrounding illness and death, circumstances that are beyond our control.
There are a number of things to keep in mind during family crises and are important for family members of all ages:
Children/adolescents will look to their parents for their primary source of support.
Establishing safe spaces and opportunities for communication. We all need places where we can safely talk with those we trust about the challenges we are facing. Children/adolescents need that, too.
Maintaining Routines. Routines help us to make our days "predictable" - even in crises. Going to school, participating in regular sports activities and even completing chores can make the day less stressful.
Support for you and your family. Families who are dealing with illness, death or substance abuse can benefit from the support of licensed professionals or support groups.
Telling the truth. No matter how difficult the topic, children and adolescents cope better when the people they trust are honest with them. Take into account the age of the child and use developmentally appropriate terms so they can understand.
Seeking Information and obtaining control over the situation. Knowledge is power. Talk with your family doctor, a licensed mental health professional, or other professionals who may be able to point you in the right direction for the information you need.
Learn more about different coping mechanisms that will help you and your child through caregiving.
Please check out our Young Adult Caregiver resources page for some great information that will help you through caregiving.
Check out this short caregiver series!