Revealing Your Fibromyalgia to Kids
Telling your family that you have fibromyalgia is never an easy task. This will be more so if your children are too young to truly understand what you are going through, or if they can’t yet read and research into the condition themselves. It is important to have helpful tips for sharing your condition with others, particularly the children in your life.
To begin with, it’s very important to be honest about your illness. You need to explain to your family that you are ill, name your illness and explain the illness as clearly as possible. Most children will already have picked up on the fact that something is wrong. They’ll know that you haven’t been feeling well, that you’ve been visiting doctors and that you’ve been unable to do certain things that you could do previously. As such, some children will see it as a relief to finally know what is wrong. Kids will appreciate knowing the truth and will feel empowered to have a name to the problem.
Before sitting down with your family to discuss your illness, make sure that you are prepared and educated. Talk to your doctor and become as informed as possible about your condition and about questions that they may ask you. Schedule individual time to be with each child so that each child can voice her concerns and be heard. Some children will be overpowered by others, and some will be too shy to discuss their concerns. If they have private time with you, they will be more likely to talk and to ask their questions. Most children will want to know if they caused your condition, if it’s contagious, and how long it will last. Children want to know that someone is going to take care of them and be there for them. Be honest with your children, but at the same time try to allay their fears and let them know that you are still going to be their mom or dad and be there for them.
Show Your Emotions
Just because you are a parent doesn’t mean that you have to be strong all the time. It’s alright to cry in front of your children, to show them that you are frustrated and to get angry. This will also validate your child’s emotions. Encourage your children to express their own emotions and frustrations about your illness. Sometimes, it is easier to express these things in other mediums. Ask young children to draw how they feel or to act out emotions.
Watch for Red Flags
Children will often act out based on new information of this sort. They won’t act out in ways that you might expect. Rather, they might fight more in school, cry more often, have their grades drop, avoid school, etc. Pay attention for these issues and try to intervene as soon as you notice a change.
During your good days with fibromyalgia, make sure that you focus on your children as much as possible and shower them with love. You are still their parent, their disciplinarian and their role model. These things haven’t changed just because you have gotten ill. Make sure that you are open and honest with your children and that you continue to communicate with them throughout the years as your illness develops and changes.