You and your children are unique. How you all respond to the situation will depend on different factors, including the way your family normally deals with feelings.
Some parents worry about showing their feelings or crying in front of their children. But there are good reasons to show how you feel. Hiding or bottling up your feelings also takes up energy and can make you feel even more anxious. We have more information about the emotional effects of cancer that you may find helpful. Showing your feelings can make it easier for your child to show theirs – it’s like giving them permission to do the same.
Children may need to be shielded from strong outbursts of emotion, such as arguments between adults. But it’s okay to cry in front of them sometimes, or to tell them you’re fed-up or angry about your illness.
Let them know that crying helps you feel better and there may be times when they’ll need to do the same. They shouldn’t think crying is babyish, or that they have to be strong. Explain that feelings like sadness and anger are normal and it’s okay to show these. This helps your children accept these feelings as normal, rather than be frightened of them or feel that it’s wrong to have them.
Always let your children know how much you love them through words, hugs and kisses. Sometimes your children may feel resentful about not getting enough of your attention. Or you may feel irritated by them or lose your temper. Don’t be hard on yourself. The demands of children can be difficult to manage at the best of times. Your reactions may be quite normal or heightened because you are under a lot of stress.
Talk this over with your partner or family to try to make sure you’re getting enough support and time out to help you cope. This can stop things at home becoming too tense.
If you have a teenager, remember that every teenager will react differently to a situation. You might think that they will find it hard to see you cry or hear about how you are feeling. But it’s important to be honest about your feelings, as it will help them trust you. It may also make them feel they can be honest about their own feelings. This trust will make it easier for you to find out if they are coping.