Supporting your young adult children

Young adults are starting to live a much more independent life. When a parent is diagnosed with cancer, it presents a whole lot of new and difficult challenges. They may be getting ready to leave or have left home for a new job or study. Parents don't want to burden them with the news. They are tempted to 'lessen the load' by making things sound better than they are and telling half-truths to make the telling easier.

Young people can be unpredictable in their response. They may be uncomfortable about their thoughts and feelings about your cancer. Some young adults become anxious and feel they need to move back home to care for you. Reassure them that you'll keep them updated. Some may withdraw from you and have very little contact. Others may indulge in risk-taking behaviour. Give them room to react without judgement. Let them know that you still care about their safety. Try to keep an eye on them and ask a friend or family member to act as their mentor and supporter.

If they are living at home, let them know that the old rules still apply and that they might need to help more on occasions; for example, with shopping, housework and cooking. Let them know what support you have, such as family and friends and health professionals. Encourage them to keep up their usual activities, social life and studies or job. Tell them how much you appreciate contact with them.

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