“Teenagers need to be told the facts over and over. They need for their worries and concerns to be heard again and again,” says Dr. Wendy Harpham, Dallas physician, mother of three, and lymphoma survivor.
The teenage years can be a tumuluous time for children and their parents under the best of circumstances. When a parent has cancer, the stresses can be even greater.
Encourage them to spend time with their friends and to stay involved in extracurricular activities. This gives them a break from the seriousness at home.
Talk with them honestly and listen to them without interruption. Encourage their talking to other safe and caring adults – teacher, coach, minister, relative.
Teens should be informed when the circumstances change, so that additional support can be provided when needed.
Support groups with other teens going through a similar experience and/or investing in professional counseling is worth considering because they will learn some skills for moving through change and loss that will benefit them as they move into adulthood.
A good resource is the book When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children, by Wendy S. Harpham, MD.