How much info should be given to children?

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How much info should be given to children?

Hi there, I am currently struggling with knowing what and how much information I should be giving to my kids (18, 16, 12) and letting them see. My ex - their father - has cancer and is currently undergoing chemo. They see him each 2nd weekend and are what I would consider close to him. Up until recently its pretty much been business as usual so they haven't really felt any effects of cancer and chemo etc. He is now getting quite ill though and I'm unsure if I should be protecting them and keeping away from when him when he is sick, or if they should be seeing him ill so they understand better? Everything I have read says honesty is the best policy and they should be part of things etc. If things continue to go downhill, I don't want them to be shocked or surprised, but prepared as best they can be. Anyone have any advise or experience etc? Thanks!
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Re: How much info should be given to children?

Hi Nightcap I'm so sorry you are faced with this predicament, but I personally believe that honesty is the best policy. Children are very resilient and after the initial shock, you will probably find that they cope with everything OK. Your children are at an age where they would figure out that something was wrong anyway, so I advise to tell them everything......well, sorry I'll rephrase that, dont tell them the 'warts and all' stuff - they dont need to know that, but they do need to know that their dad is sick and that he is having treatment to try and make him better (or ..... I'm not sure of your ex's prognosis but if he has been given an estimate of how long he has - then the children should also be told) - this will then 'lay the foundations' for what is to come next. I would let your ex dictate when he wants to see the kids - if he feels up to it on his weekend, so be it! Please dont deny the children time with their dad as time passes so quickly. It's lovely to have happy healthy parents, but kids will also love you when your sick. Be guided by your ex and your children, unfortunately we cant and shouldnt shield kids from everything. Good luck Di xx
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Re: How much info should be given to children?

Thank you both very much for your replies. I don't think I explained myself very well, I'm not denying any time at all. At the moment, we're (his wife and I) shielding them in the way of, he's not feeling very well today so no visits type way. My concern is that by doing this, they're not getting to really understand that he is actually very sick. I am going to talk to my kids and as you say, be guided by them as to whether they wish to see him when he is ill. I am being honest in terms of telling them he is sick and I have gotten them literature from the cancer council etc. We have not discussed death or even the possibility of death, only that he is unwell and will hopefully get better. He has cancer in the esophagus metastasized in the neck I believe. Thank you once again for your replies, I appreciate them! Mel
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Re: How much info should be given to children?

We have two kids (12 and 17). We told them everything and we deal with all the issues in front of them. We engage them where we think they can contribute. We never made a big deal of it. They were very sad when we initially told them but a week later they were fine. We do not hide other domestic issues from them. We engage them and treat them as adults. They understand much more than we think. We have discussed the worst case scenario with them in our attempt to prepare them for the worst if the worst comes. Being objective, realistic and honest is the key. Good luck. P.S. I would like to add that when we have found she had cancer and when the kids came back from the school we have sat down (she was in between two of them) and I told them straight out. No tears, no emotional outbursts - just the facts but I did continue talking and talking for about an hour. By the time I've finished the initial emotions have settled and they've embraced the news in a much more controlled way.
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Re: How much info should be given to children?

Hi nightcap, My youngest son was 13 when I was diagnosed. He was kept out of the loop, especially when I was very ill initially in hospital. He struggled quite significantly with this down the track. He told me later that he was confused and no-one would tell him what was happening. It actually took my Principal(I am a teacher at my son's High School) to take him aside and explain my predicament. He felt that he wasn't trusted enough to be able to understand. I would definately be upfront with your kids. They deserve it, particularly if they have a strong relationship with their father. Samex
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Re: How much info should be given to children?

Hi, When i was going through my cancer, My husband and i shared everything with our kids, we have 7,{my eldest is now 14, youngest is 4} they seen the good and the bad, we didnt want to hide anything, This might sound strange, but when i had really bad days, they were there for me, I drew strength from them. Now that im in remission, they are enjoying that with me. Kids handle things in different ways.......... Sham
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Re: How much info should be given to children?

G'day Nightcap At 18, 16 and 12 they are hardly children and the older ones in particular are likely to resent it if you do not deal with them honestly. The Cancer Helpline 13 11 20 is a good resource to use to talk to someone about this and get some information on how to tell adolescents that their father has cancer. You might also like to get in touch with Canteen - look up their number on google - as they are a huge support for teenagers affected by cancer. They don't have to have cancer themselves to get support from Canteen. If you tell them and deal with them honestly then they will understand why their father is sick, why perhaps a visit today is not a good idea and so on. Also your GP can tell you how they can get help from a psychologist, if they need it, on medicare. Cheers Sailor It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.George William Curtis
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Re: How much info should be given to children?

Hey, Nightcap, Yes i agree with the comments that honesty is the best policy and all my kids 6 of them 24-36 and my 9 Gkids all know..haha.. sorry only the Gkids that understood to a certain degree were told. We are a very close family and they are very supportive, so I say go with it and take the advice of the people that answered. Keeping all concerned in a positive frame of mind also helps in a big way for me. TC Dave
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Re: How much info should be given to children?

Hi Mel, You're doing the right thing. You're their mum, you know you kids best, so you will make the right decision. Good luck! Hope it all goes well for you. Di xx
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