Making it work

It's important for parents and children to work together and set up a "new normal" for the family. Here are a few things you can do as a parent to help your children deal with your condition.

Help them learn more about MS
Give your children age-appropriate information about MS. Tell them what the condition is, what the symptoms are like, how it may affect the family's life, and what the prognosis is. Check with the MS Society of Canada or the National MS Society for more information and learning materials for children.

Let kids be kids
Your children may be pitching in to help by taking on extra chores and responsibilities. It's great to have the extra help, and it often makes the children feel better to be helping. But make sure that they still have time to just be kids. Give them the space they need to spend time with friends and get involved in their own activities. This can help reduce stress and let them enjoy life.

Communication is key
Keep the lines of communication open with your children. If they have questions, do your best to answer them honestly and completely. Use books, brochures, or pictures to help. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so. You and your child can work together to find out the answer.

Get help if you need it
Use technologies such as cellphones to stay in contact with your kids. This can actually be a way to give them more space – instead of staying around the house in case you need them, they can go out with friends and still be just a call or text away. Consider hiring someone to take care of some of your chores or errands, or having things delivered rather than going out to get them. Draw on your friends, relatives, or local MS society chapter for support. If you're concerned about how your family is doing and not sure where to turn, consider family counseling. Your local MS chapter or Employee Assistance Program may be able to help get you in touch with a counselor.

Overall, it's important to reassure your kids that even though things may be different now, you are the same person and will always be their parent.

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