4) Empower them. Having a loved one with a chronic illness is a lot for a child to handle and sometimes they can start to feel helpless especially when like this, it’s something that’s not within their control. But by giving them concrete ways to help out, be it with daily tasks such as housework or more proactive activities such as fundraising, they feel more empowered.
So how did our family reach a certain level of peace with this issue? It is in part due to heeding the above points I mentioned but also in large part due to the way in which we relayed the appropriate information. We recognized very early on that in most cases the reaction of our daughters was really dependent on our own. We have all seen young toddlers look at their parents when they first fall down or bump themselves. If the parent panics, then the child will inevitably cry but if it’s not too bad of a bump and the adult reacts in a very matter of fact way, they will often just pick themselves up and toddle on. A child’s resilience is a true virtue. This is the general manner in which we approached this our discussions with our girls and the everyday challenges that present themselves. Because we don’t act distressed, that gives them a sense of security and allows their natural optimism to guide their emotions. It seems to have worked so far.
As I now look at my sleeping beauty I feel a deep sense of gratitude that this potentially stressful process has taught my girls such valuable life lessons in empathy, compassion, charity and kindness. It has also taught them what took me decades to learn - that life has its challenges and it is how you approach those challenges that define you.