Being diagnosed with a serious illness has an added dimension of worry if you are a parent. While it can be daunting, we live in a community where there are many sources of support available. It’s also possible to devise some creative solutions so that you can still spend quality time with your children and ensure they are coping.
We’ve got some tips on how to approach parenting on a daily basis when you’re also dealing with a serious condition.
Have Communication Strategies in Place
A parent being diagnosed with a serious illness is an emotional process for the whole family. It can lead to children shutting down or feeling disempowered. Promoting openness is a good way of allaying fears and helping manage the situation. Also allow your children to feel anger or fear, which is normal.
Encourage your children to talk with you about their concerns. Depending on their age, it may be appropriate to involve them with discussions with your medical team. That way they know what is happening and don’t feel shut out or imagine the worst case scenario.
Find Creative Ways to Spend Time Together
Adjustments will need to be made to work around the physical limitations of your illness. This can be hard for parents who are used to being active with their children.
However, it can also be an opportunity to discover new things you enjoy doing with each other, such as playing board games or appreciating books together.
Assemble Your Children’s Support Team
Help your children build their own support team. This may be friends and family who they can call or talk to if you aren’t available. It’s important to have strategies in place for when emergencies occur. Who will pick them up from school or take them to band practice if you can’t make it?
It’s also a good idea to communicate the situation to their teachers and school, so they can step in and provide support if required.
Assemble Your Support Team
Having an outlet outside the family is important. Being able to share with people who are going through something similar can help you feel sane! There are plenty of support groups related to specific conditions available. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, this extensive list from Cancer Australia is a good place to start.
The Australian healthcare system provides medical assistance; there is also government-funded In-Home Child Care (IHCC) for parents who are struggling to physically care for their children.
Celena Haimovitch found parenting difficult after her diagnosis of breast cancer, and was referred to IHCC provider Zest Care for assistance:
“After my diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer I was unable to lift and care for my two boys. I required care outside of the standard hours to help care for my children in the mornings and evenings. The application process was a lot easier than I thought and all the staff at Zest Care are all very helpful and supportive. The service is fantastic for families who have the need.”
Whatever the nature of your condition, it’s important to remember that there is support available. Parenting with a serious illness can be challenging but it can also strengthen your family bond and appreciate your time together even more.