Menopause itself is a challenging time of change for most women. We may be having enough trouble figuring out what is going on with our bodies and emotions without the added pressure of having to deal with our family’s anxiety and confusion regarding what is happening. They may wonder what is happening to you and become alarmed and worried that something is seriously wrong.
o Your Children About Menopause
Talking about menopause is often not easy.
Speaking to your children about your menopause difficulties may feel awkward and embarrassing.
So why should you talk to your children about menopause?
What if your kids are small and unlikely to be able to understand?
These are some of the issues that come up when we think about speaking to our close family about our menopause transition.
Speaking to your family about the changes that you are going through will help them understand and make allowances for the mood swings, hot flashes, and other issues they may be noticing.
How To Talk to Your Children About Menopause
Even young children have an intuition about how their parents are feeling.
If they witness you going through a hot flash or snapping in a fit of irritation, they may wonder “What’s wrong with mom? Is she sick? Is she going crazy?”.
They may think they are the cause of your upset and may get worried and unsettled. It is important to reassure your kids and not try to hide what is going on with your body and emotions. They will be better able to deal with how menopause is affecting you if they understand what is going on.
As women are tending to have children later in life, they may start to experience menopausal issues (or menopause symptoms) while still looking after teenagers or even young children. This can present particular physical and emotional challenges. For this reason, it is important to consider the best ways to communicate with your children.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when speaking to your children about what you are going through in menopause:
1- Make your conversation age-appropriate
How you speak to a 7-year-old is very different from how you speak to a teenager. Although menopause is a natural transition, you do not need to share very personal or detailed information with your children.
For older children, it is sufficient to let them know that you are going through a natural change that is similar to the changes that their own bodies go through with hormonal fluctuations. Younger children need to only be told that you are going through a difficult time when you might feel really hot or might be a little less patient than normal. Let them know this is normal.
Talk To Your Children About Menopause
2- Keep the information simple.
There is no need to go into full technical details about what menopause entails. You may be tempted to provide a lot of information to help them understand fully, but this is not a good idea. Limited attention spans and too much information might leave children more confused.
Stick to the essential points about hormonal changes that can cause things such as hot flashes, sometimes becoming too impatient, some forgetfulness, and so on.
Especially with teenagers, it is a good idea to turn to humor to lessen the unease they (or you) may feel about discussing personal issues to do with fertility and menstruation. Joking that you are going through puberty in reverse will not only help them understand the difficulties associated with fluctuating hormones but also create a kind of bond of understanding between you. A good example is how Andrea McLean, the author of “Confessions of a Menopausal Woman“, describes how she spoke to her two teenagers about her early menopause.
3- Make sure they know you are okay
A child may feel very agitated and scared if they think you are starting to behave differently or if they suspect that you are sick or that there is something wrong with you. Any number of thoughts may cross their minds which can make them feel very insecure.
Even though you, yourself, may be unsure about the symptoms of menopause and how they will be affecting you in terms of severity or duration, it is still important to tell your children that you are going to be okay and that what you are going through is perfectly normal.
It is a good idea to tell them that what is going on with you is due to your hormones fluctuating. Let them know in advance that these hormonal changes may cause you to get sad, angry, or irritated, and you may lash out occasionally. Assure them that this is not because of them, but rather due to the physical changes you are experiencing.
If you do snap or get irritated, wait until you calm down, then sit down with them and reassure them of your love. Use humor to your advantage. Call your angry self something funny, and say that she has made an appearance, but we are all glad that she has gone away.
4- Let them know what they can do to help
When you are going through a hot flash or a mood swing, feeling sad or crying, your children may feel helpless.
Tell them honestly how you are feeling. Perhaps you can create a few codewords linked to certain things you need from them when you are going through these difficulties. For example, you can use a certain signal or a code such as ‘Code Red’ to indicate that you need them to leave you alone for one hour or so.
Arming your children with pre-arranged responses to certain situations helps to give them a sense of control and a feeling that they are providing you with what you need from them.
Don’t forget to hug them and thank them when it is over.
5- Tell them that everything is under control, even when you are not so sure!
As parents, it is up to us to ensure the wellbeing of our children. We must not make them feel responsible for parenting us.
You do want to help your kids to be aware of what is going on, and to provide the necessary information, but you do not want them to feel the weight of responsibility for making you feel better! You can ask them to help in small ways (like leaving you alone for a bit or turning noise down) but they must not feel the burden is theirs.
It is important to assure them that everything is under control; that this is a difficult time for you but you are able to handle it and you are getting the help you need from professionals in the field.
Even though you may have some bad days, show them that you can still be fun and joyful on days that you feel okay. Do things that you have enjoyed together before; games, outings, movie nights. You may be going through a tough time, but your kids will always be the source of love and joy.
Talk To Your Children About Menopause
Finally, it is important to remember that the people who love you will want to help and support you, but you need to help them to learn how to do it.
Read more about the following how to better communicate about menopause: