All parents need to attend to financial and legal planning to ensure the well-being of their children in an uncertain world, but for parents with cancer this is even more important. Your illness may affect the length of your life, your ability to work, or your need for additional help at home.
There are legal considerations pertaining to the custody of your children if you are unable to care for them, as well as decisions to make about managing any money or property you may leave behind for them. Attending to these financial and legal matters in advance protects your children from additional pain and confusion should you die or become incapacitated for any reason, including a truly unforeseen accident that could happen to anyone. It may not be easy to think about these issues, but your family will be more secure if you take time to address them.
When a parent is ill, children may feel that life is less certain or secure. Being prepared to answer any questions they have about the “what ifs,” such as “Who would I live with?” or “Would we still be able to live in our home?” or “Would I still be able to go to college?” will help your children feel reassured that you are committed to their safety and security no matter what happens. This is a loving message.
Parents are often surprised that their children have specific worries about the future and assume that their children have not considered the “what ifs.” Some parents may be concerned that addressing these scenarios may upset their children. But when children are invited to share worries about what would happen to them if a parent died, many children reveal these unspoken anxieties and parents can feel good about being able to address them directly.