It is well documented that cancer affects not only the diagnosed individual but also the family system. Notwithstanding this fact, data concerning the specific impact of parents’ cancer upon their children is scarce and even nonexistent when it comes to children’s reactions to grandparents’ cancer diagnosis. These reactions are diverse and affected by basic factors such as age of the child, cognitive level and personality and, even more so by the communication in the family, the function of the family system, and the child’s place and role in the family system.
The purpose of the presentation is to present an overview of the literature focusing on children’s reactions to parental cancer and to discuss a clinical example of cancer in a traditional patriarchal family where cancer is not discussed openly with various members of the family. Children are, on the one hand, “protected” from information and, on the other hand, assume the role of protecting their parents and grandparents.
Conclusions concerning the children’s emotional state, the importance of open communication and possible interventions are discussed.
This abstract could form part of Symposium proposal:
"Is older age a contributing factor for avoiding disclosing the truth about cancer? Quandaries within a family dynamic: a clinical case" (coordinator Lea Baider)