Kids are easily pushed to the side when someone in the family is diagnosed with cancer. The shift to crisis mode and survival relegates them to the periphery or in other words shuts them out. This is not only unfair, but can rob both the kid and the loved one of the joy that existed in their relationship before they became ill.
Being a teenager is hard enough. The fact that I don’t know one adult who would want to be 16 again attests to this. The world is constantly shifting when you are 16. It is a time filled with much laughter but also confusion, and the struggle to find one’s place at home, at school and in the world at large. Ugh! Adding an ill loved one to the mix can easily be overwhelming resulting in more rather than less stressful teenage behaviour.
When this happened in our home I sought help in the way of parenting counseling. Definitely one of the smarter things I have done. Asking for help usually is. I had long been concerned over our daughter’s physically distancing herself from her dad and his illness. Though understandable it robbed them both of the smart aleckly loving relationship they had always shared. When asked about this by the counselor I had to face the fact that our efforts at keeping my husband alive and well had unintentionally isolated our daughter. Reading to her dad, as was suggested, was not an option. I tend to do this when reading the paper and he absolutely hates it. But, perhaps getting her involved with his exercises would be the way to go. Together they could work with the list of exercises and make up their own as they went along. It would be a good beginning for them to spend some time together: just the two of them. Who knows maybe down the road they’ll start doing his beloved New York Times crossword puzzles together.