When Do We Tell Our Kids About Our Illnesses?

Last updated: June 2018

Recently I stumbled upon a conversation on Facebook in regards to sharing our illnesses with our children. The person asked what others thought was an appropriate age to explain what was wrong with her body. The overall consensus was that there is no perfect age and that each situation is different.

Timing of illness

My symptoms began presenting themselves when my son was 10. By the time he was 13, I had already received my diagnoses of psoriasis, fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, and began my battle with endometriosis. I waited until he was 13 to share this information with him. This wasn’t because I didn’t think he was ready to understand them, but instead it was because that was the point in which my diseases had turned our lives upside down. Prior to this point I was blind to the fact that life was never going to be the same. Once I acknowledge that my conditions were here to stay I wanted to let him know that just because our lifestyle had to change one thing wouldn’t and that was my love for him and his infant sister. Because he was a teenager, I also wanted him to understand that I would need him to help out more and that it was because of my illnesses and not a form of punishment. On the other hand my daughter has only known sick mommy. She was born in between my psoriasis and fibromyalgia diagnoses. She’s never known the mommy who could get through the day without a nap or who could chase her around the yard. Because of this I have always shared why mommy needs to rest or why I needed her to help me with certain chores. When and how much your disease impacts the lives of your children can help you decide when the right time to share is, what worked for my children may not for yours. When did you tell your kids?

How much should I share?

Since my son was older, I felt comfortable explaining my conditions and their symptoms. It was important for him to understand that this was going to be our new life as there wasn’t a cure for any of my conditions. With my daughter being born into my chronic life I rolled out the details of my illnesses in stages. During her infant and toddler years, I would explain that mommy’s body needed a nap or that we needed to play with her dolls in my bed because my body was too sore to sit on her bedroom floor. As she grew older, she grew more curious as to why mommy had so many issues and that is when I began explaining what each of my conditions were and how they affected my body. How much you share is entirely up to you and what you think your children can handle.

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