Childhood Cancer

Your Child in the Hospital

Things that do not help

Well-meaning people sometimes say hurtful things to parents of sick or injured children. If you are a family member or friend of a parent with a hospitalized child, please do not say any of the following:

• “God only gives people what they can handle.” Some people cannot handle the stress related to their child’s illness or injury

• “I know just how you feel.” Unless you have a child in a similar situation, you simply don’t know.

• “You are so brave,” or “You are so strong.” Parents of very sick children are not heroes; they are ordinary people struggling with extraordinary stress.

Parents also make the following suggestions of things to avoid doing:

• Do not make personal comments in front of the child: “He’s lost so much weight,” or “She’s so pale.”

• Do not do things that require the parent to support you (for example, call up repeatedly, crying).

• Especially if treatments are lengthy, do not talk continually about the illness. Some normal conversations are welcome.

Most parents welcome stories of other children you know who had a similar condition and are doing fine.