How much information does one share with kids in times of grief, trauma and serious illness? There are as many answers as there are parents ... endless.
Our household paradigm tends towards blunt truthfulness versus protective caution. This is more a reflection my being than any grand parenting wisdom. Thus far, no regrets. Facing adversity builds character - as the old saying goes.
We have been open with Oldest Son and Youngest Son since my diagnosis of breast cancer. Their level of understanding, curiosity and concern has been predictably in line with their ages (10 and 12.) My favorite moments this week were the times Oldest Son or Youngest Son stood beside me in front of the mirror and mimicked my arm exercises with a grin on their face. This was not a planned grandiose gesture but just the boys being themselves and it was nice.
They are watching how I face adversity as a person, as a woman and as a mother. They have seen me working through serious treatment decisions then having surgery and now laughing through my tears as I try to move my arms over my head.
They are watching Commuter Husband face adversity as a husband, as a man and as a father. Perhaps the best lessons are found here for these young boys. The husband who knows his true love is for the spirit and not the body. The man who bravely looks upon the scars with ease and poise. The father who stays and cares for his family during tougher times.
They are watching as our friends, colleagues and family extend help to us through meals, rides, car pool, phone calls, messages, visits, flowers, books, scarves, earrings, candles, lawn assistance, house cleaning, kind words, cards, gifts and offers to help any way needed. Extraordinary acts of kindness every single day. The kids of these friends, colleagues and family are also watching and sometimes helping too.
Small children and young kids and confused teenagers are watching the world around them. Illness provides many opportunities to model facing adversity. We are setting an example. We are all being role models which is ultimately the highest teaching truth.