### Explaining Brain Surgery to My Child: How Should I Approach It?

In this week’s segment on Parenting, a mother is gearing up for brain surgery, which will require her to be away from her children for more than a month.

Expressing her upcoming medical journey, she shared with Moncrieff, “I’m scheduled for brain surgery to address epilepsy. This will entail a minimum hospital stay of four weeks in Dublin, while we reside in the western part of Ireland.

Apart from the extended absence, there will also be a noticeable change in my appearance due to half of my head being shaved for the procedure, resulting in a different look upon my return.

Throughout my hospitalization, we plan to stay connected through regular FaceTime calls, albeit with a prominent bandage on my head, which will be a new sight for them.”

The mother mentioned that her perceptive four-year-old is likely to handle the situation better, whereas her two-year-old tends to be more attached and dependent.

Navigating through the complexities of addressing this with her children, alongside her own anxieties surrounding the surgery, presents a significant challenge.

Preparing for the Journey Ahead

Child psychotherapist Joanna Fortune highlighted the importance of the mother’s self-awareness regarding the stress she is under.

Acknowledging the magnitude of the upcoming experience, Joanna emphasized the need for self-compassion, especially considering the inevitable physical transformation.

She recommended initiating gradual adjustments by trimming her hair as a way to exert some control over the impending change.

Explaining the situation to the children in a simple and visual manner, such as likening it to a special haircut to assist the doctors in their work, can facilitate their understanding.

Parenting During Hospitalization

Joanna stressed the significance of managing expectations during the hospitalization period, where interactions with her children will be limited to virtual means.

She advised against expecting conventional conversations and instead suggested engaging in activities like singing songs and reading stories to maintain connection.

Recognizing children’s limited attention span over the phone, she cautioned against misinterpreting their disinterest as rejection.

Additionally, tangible items like a ‘Mammy message box’ filled with activities and a countdown calendar can serve as comforting tools for both the children and the mother.

She recommended introducing the calendar closer to the return date, enabling a one to two-week countdown for a more tangible grasp of the timeline.

Furthermore, she proposed the book The Invisible String by Patrice Karst as a poignant reminder to the children that love transcends physical distance, resonating even when apart.