Dear Family Whisperer now appears weekly on Huffington Post Parent
Dear Family Whisperer,
It would be helpful to also know the ages of your children, how visible your partner’s problems are, how limited s/he is and how s/he deals with those limitations, whether your children seem worried, if and how the illness affects the parent/child relationships in your household (not just the ill parent, the well one, too). Lacking those details, though, as a general rule of thumb, know that your children are aware of your emotions and everything that’s going on in the household. Even babies are “infected” by their caregivers’ depression.
My advice: be authentic; tell it like it is, because they know anyway. You don’t have to scare them or overload them with details, but give the problem a name, discuss the limitations, talk about how “we” are all affected and “we” all can help. Whether the afflicted person is a child or an adult, everyone does better when problems are discussed openly. We can only accept and work with what we understand.
Remember, too, that every family has problems. It’s how they deal with them that matters. In fact, a few years ago I interviewed a particularly inspiring teenager, wise beyond her years, and I asked how she got that way. Turns out she grew up with a brave, self-sufficient father who happened also to be blind. She participated in his care when necessary, watched as he sometimes stumbled or had to meet new challenges, including other physical complications. She figured if he had such a good attitude about life, why shouldn’t she?
Have a family question for Melinda Blau? Tweet #DearFamilyWhisperer or email us at DearFamilyWhisperer@familywhispering.com. Check back next week to see if your question is featured! Real names will not be used, no topics off limits. For more info go to FamilyWhispering.com and follow @MelindaBlau.