Are you hiding your illness or unpleasant relationship from your kids ?

Are you hiding your illness or unpleasant relationship from your kids ?

While reading  a book by an   Indian  author, Jerry Pinto’s  Em and the Big Hoom , I was totally sucked into his life. His  young years were a whirlpool unleashed by his mother’s  bipolar personality and bouts of clinical depression. And I seriously think that   dealing with  her ailment and the family dynamic that follows such an illness  added so much of  character to his own life . I am not saying it was good that his mother had this rather serious indisposition . Not  at all.  All  I am trying to say is that in most circumstances ,we tend to offer our kids a  very protected and unmarred life. An ideal life which is sans  any disharmony such as  financial, health and relationship crisis  as we constantly worry about their emotional well being and see to it that nothing should lead to any insecurity  in them.


However, we want them to be courageous, bold, knowledgeable and sensitive. And we leave no stone unturned to teach them lessons of life  either through other people’s lives or  through stories,plays , movies and various other genres. I am sure almost all of us have either shown or have wanted to show our kids movies like  Life is Beautiful and Pursuit of Happyness  to teach them  that life can be bloody tough but we can still turn it around.

Closer home, we have  told them  stories of late Chief Minister of TN and how she had such a tempestuous childhood and lost her mother very early on whom she was very attached.  We narrate them stories from life of Oprah Winfrey who had an absolutely unenviable childhood marred by sexual abuse and teenage mother hood. And both these women made such a coveted success out of their lives which were doomed to begin with.


We make them part of NGOs who work with children suffering from Cancer and disabilities and children who were orphaned and deserted by their parents. I agree that we truly and genuinely want to help these people with other purposes being that children must learn to value what they have and should at the same time be sensitized to all forms of life.

But surprisingly, when some disease affects us, we become extremely cautious about sharing it with our children.  I find it paradoxical— in fact, this is the true test of their courage and resilience –and in fact an opportunity to truly train them into realities of life, you see.

We are so protective. Why? Why don’t we realize that life is not a bed of roses, it is indeed a big struggle—struggle against odds.  And any adversity can be turned into an opportunity to create value out of it.

Of course in an ideal situation, no one asks for disease and challenges—but when it comes to it, one should not hesitate.


When one of my friends was diagnosed with an intestinal disease  known a ulcerative colitis, the name sounded like a death sentence. Both my friend and her husband, decided on their way back from the doctor that they will not tell it to their kids. After all, it will affect their studies,it will make them insecure.  Every discussion happened in a hush hush manner and kids started worrying to an extent they felt some conspiracy is going against them. The communication gap developed between the kids and the parents to an extent of polarizing the family.The mother was always stressed and wary what if kids find this stressed her a lot only hampering her convalescence. But what led to it was a situation that  their life became full of pretentions and lies making the family completely dysfunctional and on the verge of breaking apart.


However, my friend joined an online community of people with  ulcerative colitis.  And she happened to meet a few mothers of her age group and one of them seemed so emotionally sound and balanced..she told my friend that the day she came to know about her condition, she decided to share it with her family and kids in the most rational manner. She even laced it with humour  . She did not harbor any inner fear  and what she did instead was to pour it out – telling the aspects of flare up of the disease and reminssion periods, the morbidity , the maintenance and all.—Think about it-

If the kids know it-

It makes them responsible.

It trains them  to take initiative.

It makes them compassionate.

It prepares them for life.

And above all,

It makes them oriented to understanding a new thing—

Life is not in books,its in life itself–


Be inclusive, don’t exclude them. But she decided to turn adversity into an opportunity to teach her kids the coping mechanisms –they started reading about ulcerative collitus, there were discussions on physiology of the disease, that there was no communication gap  brought the family closer–

Charity begins at home and so does clarity.


Ritu Garg
Ritu Garg

Ritu Garg likes to call herself a wordsmith. She collects words like a philatelist would collect stamps or a numismatic would collect coins. Words give her power, she shares a relationship with them. Words make herthoughts tactile, tangible and transferrable.


Aparna Posted on4:29 am - May 28, 2018

what an eye opener of an article. a family who is conducive to each other’s needs, sticks together through thick and thin.

    Ritu Posted on12:45 am - Jun 16, 2018

    I am glad Aparna it resonated with you

Nandini Rao Posted on4:50 am - May 28, 2018

I completely get what the author is touching upon. I will share somethibg from mt life last year. I was attending to an emergency operation of my husband in an alien city. During the operatiin, the doctor came out n told me that my husband is suspected of harbouring cancer cells n we need to do a biopsy of the operated tissue.
That instant, I decided to deal with the situation all by myself, not including my husband nor my daughter who stayed abroad.
Dealing with it all by myself was emotionally exhsusting n physically burdensome.
After two weeks, I spoke to mt friend about it n she insisted that I share the information with my family. When I did so, the whole family came together to deal with the illness n crisis. By sharing with my family I got cooperation, compassion, respite from constant worry n sharing the financcial burden.
Ritus article touched me n kufos to her gor writing about this.

    Ritu Posted on12:47 am - Jun 16, 2018

    That must have been such s release for you Nandini.
    Otherwise, it becomes doubly difficult to deal with the problem

Hitangxi Bhuta Posted on10:13 am - May 28, 2018

True children should know everything right from day one as they future of family.

    Ritu Posted on12:47 am - Jun 16, 2018

    I am glad that this needed to be told

Meenakshi Raina Posted on11:48 am - Jun 12, 2018

This article is truly an informative piece as how important is to come out of our fear zone to speak to our immediate family members to deal with any crises and to bring oneness among the family.

I totally agree with your words Ritu Ji that “Charity begins at home and so does clarity”.

    Ritu Posted on12:48 am - Jun 16, 2018

    Meenakshi Raina. Thank you for your comment.
    I was a bit apprehensive about touching thus topic. But I think I touched the right chord

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