- Question from Dust Bunnies: Since I was diagnosed, the family chores have really hit the wall. It's hard to convince my young ones that their rooms still need to be picked up, trash emptied, etc. even though Mom is sick. How can I gently explain this without sounding harsh? Thanks.
- Answers - Paula K. Rauch, M.D. One of the most common complaints that parents have (and all the more so the older the children), is the feeling that in the context of Mom's illness, the children aren't stepping up to the plate to do more family household chores. It's good training to help kids to take responsibility, but many parents find it takes more energy to get the kids to do those chores than sometimes to do them yourself or have another grownup do them. Having charts and lists that your child can check off his/her daily chores can help some. But if it's any comfort, know that many parents, sick and well, are struggling with that same frustration—that it's hard to get kids to pay attention to dust bunnies.
- Tamara Shulman, Ph.D., FAACP Sometimes it can be really helpful to sit down in a family meeting format to talk about what's going on, what's the plan, what's expected, etc. Kids like to have choices inasmuch as they need structure. Picking up their own things might be a given, but maybe they could negotiate the other household chores so they have input into what they are choosing to do. That said, as Dr. Rauch said, many kids are sometimes forgetful or resistant to doing household chores. Sometimes if it's practical, this is an area where a family may try to get some additional help or support so children are not burdened at this time with a lot of additional chores they don't normally do. Hiring someone, or getting volunteers in the support community, may be a good idea. This may be a time when kids are reassured by normal expectations of taking care of their own things. It may also be a time for a mom who has always been neat and in control to find a way for things to slide a bit. The fatigue won't last forever.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Talking With Kids about Breast Cancer featured Paula Rauch, M.D. and Tamara Shulman, Ph.D., F.A.A.C.P. answering your questions about specific ways to support your kids while you undergo treatment, and different communication strategies for helping your kids to feel secure during a time of uncertainty.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in May 2006.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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