Let the kids be kids!
We have 3 amazing kids. They are the light of our lives and bring so much joy into our home! As a kid my Grandpa had cancer, but it didn’t consume our lives. It was scary, but not always part of our lives. It’s different for kids who have a parent with cancer, they cannot avoid it and they are aware their lives are different than others. My Mom picked up our oldest from school early on a day our daughter broke her arm. The second he saw my Mom he started crying because he assumed something was wrong with his Dad. This story broke my heart to think of the fear that he must live in. They know Travis sleeps a lot when he has chemo, they know they get babysat a lot because Travis can’t take care of them, they know he is grumpy sometimes because of the medicine, and they know he could die. That’s an awful lot for a kid to have to deal with.
So, what do you do? Lying to them is not an option for us. We try to stay positive and hopeful, but realistic too. If we tell them Travis will for sure survive, and then he dies, what does that teach them? Would I be taking away their opportunity to mourn with him while he is alive? I don’t think there is an absolute answer for what to say and when to say it. Travis and I sat with a social worker and we told her our biggest worry was the kids. She advised us to stick to facts, not speculations. We try to do that and try to be inspired as to what to say and how to act.
Some days I smile because I know the kids need to see me happy, but sometimes I let them see me cry because they need to know that life is scary and it’s okay to be sad sometimes too! We try to protect them, but also feel it’s important to include them with what’s going on. We are to the point that we talk about death a little more casually around our house, probably more than most people probably do. We want them to understand death. We tell them that if we know he is close to dying, then we will tell them, so they don’t have to worry about it every time something bad happens.But they also understand that sometimes people die quickly without much warning.
We cut them some slack sometimes and try to understand the incredible burden they have, but still try to teach them everything they need to know to be good kids! We feel coddling them is not allowing them the opportunity to grow with us.
I overheard My Mom talking to my daughter the other day and she was talking about the next time the kids were coming to play with her, and I loved that, instead of them being babysat, they were just hanging with their friend, Nana! So, instead of them being babysat a lot, they get the opportunity to hang out with their Nana and Cousin and Aunt every week, what lucky kiddos!
We want the kids to be kids and to play and be happy without having to focus too much on super scary things like cancer! We laugh, and watch funny things as a family! God blesses families that are determined to have family night*, and if it’s not always the same night every week, that’s okay! We’ve had to move it around to make it work with how Travis is feeling, but we take every opportunity we can to grow closer as a family and to share our love with each other, share the gospel and our love for the gospel, our Savior, and our Heavenly Father. I take them to the park and events! My siblings and parents take them places to get them out of the house so the kids can focus on other things. We force them to play outside and give them chores, like any other normal kid! We love them and snuggle with them every day! By trying to make our home a happy and safe place to be, despite Travis’ cancer, we too are happier while we survive cancer!
*Family Night is held on Monday nights by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is a night that is set-aside to spend time together to counsel, teach, read the scriptures, discuss family issues, or have a family activity.
Copyright © Stacy Fredericks 2016, All rights reserved