Find out your parenting style with my parent personality quiz!

Find out your parenting style with my parent personality quiz!


How to Talk to Your Kids About the Hard Things

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

Being a parent while being sick is one of the hardest challenges parents can face.

If you’ve been there, and I know many of you have been, you know how difficult this is. The diagnosis comes back. The tumor is malignant. It’s cancer. You have a five-year-old or a ten-year-old or a 13-year-old. What do you do? What do you tell your kids? How do you explain to them a life-threatening illness?

I recently sat down and interviewed my friend Cheryl Wilkinson. Cheryl is a breast cancer survivor and mother of three. She has wonderful insight into how to parent through cancer. She’s honest and real, and even talks about what she did when her kids asked that scary question, “Are you going to die?”

From my experience in the medical field and from my experience as a mother, here’s what I’ve learned about talking to your kids about cancer and illness:

1. Be honest with your kids.

Kids are very intuitive. They know when something is wrong. Don’t hide your diagnosis from them. Be honest and transparent. Your kid wants to know how you’re feeling. Tell him. Don’t keep him the dark or in the unknown. That could make him more anxious than simply knowing the truth.
So pick a time with your spouse to sit down and tell your kids about your diagnosis. Honesty is key during difficult times like this.

2. Decide with your spouse what details you will and will not share.

Being honest about your diagnosis doesn’t mean divulging every detail with your child. Decide, with your spouse, what you will and will not tell your child. Maybe you will tell him what type of cancer you have, and that you will be taking medicine for it, but you don’t have to tell them the exact chemo route you’ve decided to take and why, or which surgery route you’re going to take and why. Use wisdom and your best judgment to let them know the details you know they can handle.

3. Keep your language simple.

Whatever details you choose to share—and this principle could actually help determine what you will and won’t share with your child—keep your language simple. Medical language and big words will overwhelm your child. Tell her you’re sick and you’re trying to get better.

Tell her you’re taking medicine that your doctor told you to take. Tell her you’ll feel tired sometimes. You’ll be learning a lot of lingo and verbiage as you’re on your cancer journey—this is great information for you and your spouse to know, but your kids don’t have to know everything you’re learning about. Keep it and simple

I hope you found encouragement from Cheryl’s story and from this post. Please share it with any friend who may be struggling with illness and how to be a parent through it. It is a very difficult time, but it doesn’t have to be hopeless.



Skylight Digital Picture Frames are the perfect bridge connecting you to the special moments of those you love! It’s private, pre-loadable, and you can personalize it! Visit


Here’s the perfect gift to inspire and delight that young person in your life! The CrunchLabs build box subscription. Crunchlabs packs the fun into science by sending kids a new toy to build each month. And everyone’s favorite youtuber Mark Rober’s teaches them how! Kids LOVE IT! Go to and get yours today!

Your pet can’t choose healthy, but you can! Choose Whole Life Pet for human grade, freeze-dried, nutrient-rich, all natural food and treats for your dog or cat!



Thrive Market – the customized and economical way to shop organic, non-gmo, and healthy – for you and your family.

The #1 Meal Kit for Eating well. Go to and use code 60drmeg to get 60% off plus 20% off your next two months. to start now! 

Masimo Stork is a revolutionary new baby monitor. SET technology has been in use for 25 years in the NICU units of America’s hospitals – now that same technology is available at home. Masimo Stork tracks real time, with your baby’s pulse rate, oxygen saturation, and skin temperature. While not a medical device, it can ensure more confident and calmer parenting. To learn more, go to

Website-Dr. Meeker (8)
Feeling a a bit uneasy about having "the talk" with your son or daughter?
Dr. Meeker is here to help! “How to Talk to Your Kids about Puberty & Sex (ages 8-18)” is her most comprehensive course ever and she’ll equip you to have that conversation with knowledge, confidence and sensitivity. Check it out!

More Tools to Simplify Fatherhood