During your CHD care journey, you will spend a lot of time managing the physical and emotional health of your son or daughter who has a heart condition. But if you have other children, they are also affected by their sibling’s CHD. All of you will feel the stress of CHD in your own way at different times.
Many parents struggle with knowing what to say to their other children about CHD or how much to tell them. While it’s natural to want to protect your children, you also need to share information about CHD and what it means for their brother or sister’s life. Listen to their reactions and help them process the information.
When a child is diagnosed with CHD it is a major life event that impacts everyone in the family forever. Your family is a team that will work and learn together on the CHD care journey, and siblings are an essential part of the team. It’s important to include your other children at every step to help them understand what’s happening and to make sure they feel equally loved.
There are things you can do to help reduce the stress of CHD and its uncertainties on your family. Talking openly and honestly with your other children about CHD – using language they will understand – can remove some of the mystery and fear they may have about the illness. This also helps children feel more “normal” and understand that all families deal with difficulties in life.
Part of being a CHD parent is watching for the potential emotional impacts on your other children. When you know the signs, you can pay attention to changes in their personality and behavior, and learn how to deal with any problems that may develop.