Children & Teens facing cancer in a loved one

Most common concerns of children who have cancer in their family:

  • Did I cause this?
  • Will I, or someone I love, catch this/
  • How will my life be affected?

Simple suggestions for talking to children

  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Always check out what children are thinking or guessing, prior to giving information
  • Base all information on the child's coping abilities and let the child tell you how much he/she wants to know
  • End all discussions with something positive, or a way to enhance coping
  • Let children know that any discussions are okay and that the communication doors are open

To manage a parent's cancer, children need

  • Education: especially about the visible, unfamiliar aspects of the situation
  • Preparation: one step at a time, as events occur, stressing both facts and feelings
  • Opportunities to Express Emotions: expect wide variation, it's okay to see adult reactions
  • Support and Guidance: provide choices and clear boundaries, maintain expectations

Problems which may require professional referral

  • School performance declines
  • Unrelenting expressions of guilt
  • Loss of interest in interacting with others
  • A serious problem between the child and the sick adult
  • Emotional or behavioral changes become pervasive
  • Delinquent or aggressive behavior begins or persists
  • Drug or alcohol use is initiated
  • Suicide is threatened or attempted


The resources and information given by our staff is NOT an endorsement of those individuals or practices. Staff members do not provide medical advice or assistance. We make every attempt to stock current, legitimate health-related materials. Opinions offered in writing or in lectures do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Gathering Place staff or Board of Trustees. We receive no fee for maintaining lists of resources and information. It is the responsibility of anyone utilizing this information to fully research the resources provided.

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