Possible changes and some tips to help you cope with them

November 2013

7 min - Read


Your family may be going through a lot of changes. You may be the oldest, youngest, or middle child in your family. You may live with one parent or two. Whatever your family situation, chances are that things have changed since your brother or sister got sick. This article looks at some of these changes and ways that others have dealt with them.

"I just wasn't ready for all these changes. My sister Kelly and I had always shared a bedroom. But when she got sick, she got the bedroom because Mom and Dad had to keep coming in during the night. Some nights I had to sleep on the couch in the living room. My brother Tim and I can't even have friends over as much anymore beacause they could bring germs when Kelly is sick. It's very different now." Jessica age 13.

Changing Routines and Responsibilities

Does this sound like your home?

➜ Are you doing more chores?
➜ Are you spending more time with relatives or friends?
➜ Are you home alone more?
➜ Are you asked to help make dinner or do the laundry?
➜ Are you looking after younger brothers or sisters more?
➜ Do you want to just hang out with your friends when you are needed at home?

Does this sound like you?

➜ Do you feel like you have to be perfect and good all the time?
➜ Do you try to protect your parents from anything that might worry them?
➜ Do you feel like yelling, but hold it in because you don’t want to cause trouble?

No one can be perfect all the time. You need time to feel sad or angry, as well as time to be happy. Try to let your parents and others you trust know how you’re feeling—even if you have to start the conversation.

Your Relationship With Your Parents

Your parents may ask you to take on more responsibility than others your age. Your parents may be spending more time with your brother or sister. You might resent it at first. Then again, you may grow and learn a lot from the experience. See following article for tips on talking with your parents.

Touching Base When Things Are Changing

Families say that it helps to make time to talk together—even if it’s only for a short time each week. Talking can help your family stay connected. Here are some things to consider when talking with:

Other brothers and sisters

➜ If you are the oldest child, your younger brothers or sisters may look to you for support. Help them as much as you can. It’s okay to let them know that you are having a tough time, too.
➜ If you are looking to your older brother or sister for help, tell them how you are feeling. They can help, but they may not have all the answers.
➜ Try saying something like this: "I’m doing the best job I can. How can we work together to get through this?"

Your parents

Expect your parents to feel some stress, just like you may. Your parents may not always do or say the right thing.
➜ Try to make the most of the time you do have with your parents. Let them know how much it means to you. Maybe you can go out to dinner together, or they can come to your sports game or activities, from time to time.
➜ Sometimes you may have to take the first step to start a conversation. You may feel guilty for wanting to have your needs met—but you shouldn’t. You are important and loved, too.
➜ Keep talking with your parents, even though it may be hard.
Try saying something like this:"Dad, I have something to say. Is this a good time to talk?" or "Mom, we need to talk. Have a minute?"
You may want to try saying something like this: "Is there anything I can do to help you out?"

Your brother or sister with cancer

Your brother or sister may be sick from the treatment and want to be alone. Or maybe they feel okay and want your company.
➜ Try saying something like this: "Want to play a game or talk?"

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