For Parents/Guardians

Talking With Your Children and Adolescents About Cancer

Talking with your child or adolescent about your own or a loved one’s illness may be difficult to imagine, and many adults struggle with how to break the news and answer their child’s questions. We understand, and are prepared to help you every step of the way.

Consultation & Guidance

Healing Tree Counselors understand the difficulties parents face when balancing the roles of being a parent and a patient, caregiver, or other loved one dealing with the impact of cancer. You can access guidance and support from a Healing Tree counselor at any point, or schedule a visit by phone (207.795.8250).

Informational Resources

To help with questions you may have about communicating about cancer with the young people in your life, the Healing Tree has compiled suggestions and advice from experts in the fields of child life, mental health, and oncology. Providing open and honest information as early as possible will help your child or adolescent to feel safe and involved and will establish the trust he/she will need to deal with unavoidable stress now and in the future.

Below are some helpful resources from the Healing Tree:

Supporting Grieving Children
Preparing for a Death
Helping Teens Cope
Helping Children Cope

You may also find it helpful to borrow books from our lending library, which includes books for  different ages on cancer and changes in the family. We also have educational parenting books available for adults and caregivers who are supporting youth through this experience.

Recommendations from a Healing Tree counselor are available upon request.

Additional Resources

Websites

Guided Meditations for Children, from Annaka Harris

Mindfulness for Teens, information, tools, and resources to help teens build a mindfulness practice

Teenage Cancer Trust: Support for Families,  great information and support for families when a young person has cancer

Cancer Really Sucks, support for teens by teens with music playlists, resources, a wall to post on and read encouraging thoughts

Riprap, helps teens cope when a parent has cancer.

Camp Kesem, in 2020, in response to COVID-19, Camp Kesem is doing a virtual summer camp for kids impacted by a parent’s cancer

Super Sibs, support and resources for children of all ages who have a sibling with cancer

Videos

Guided Meditation for Kids, a short meditation to help kids reduce anxiety and stress

Yoga for Teens, a 20-minute yoga session from Yoga with Adriene

Yoga for Kids: Play in the Park, a fun 30-minute video from Yoga with Adriene

Supportive & Educational Materials: Please review these prior to sharing them to make sure they are appropriate for your child. Children and teens may have additional questions or emotional reactions after viewing these materials, so it is recommended that you watch them together so that you can support your child.

Someone in my family has cancer, a video for kids and parents (Also available in French – may be appropriate for elementary school age children and up)

Kid to Kid: Your Parent Has Cancer, a 15-minute video that explains what cancer is and how it’s treated

You’re Not Alone, in this short video teens share their stories of having a parent with cancer

Handouts/Printables

Helpful resources from Healing Tree Youth + Family Services

Helping Children Cope

Helping Teens Cope

Preparing for a Death

Supporting Grieving Children

When Your Parent Has Cancer, a downloadable guide for teens