HoG Handbook

Your Other Children


siblingsEach of your children needs to know as much about your family’s bleeding disorder as they can understand. Sharing information with your children can mean fewer misunderstandings and less worry.

Unaffected siblings of children with bleeding disorders often feel ignored by their parents. The parents seem to give so much more attention to the child with the bleeding disorder. Children who feel deprived of their parents' love may become angry at the child getting the attention. Then they feel guilty about being angry. Sometimes the other children are secretly worried or feel guilty about possibly having caused bruising or bleeding. If you listen to your other children and explain as much as you can, you can help relieve their worries. 

Sisters of boys with hemophilia may be very worried about being hemophilia carriers. As soon as your daughters are old enough to understand, explain carrier testing and what the results might mean. Testing and counseling about results should be done before your daughters become sexually active. Remind them that more is being learned every day about treating hemophilia and that by the time they have children, the picture may be very different.

Rivalry between children is normal in any family. You can reduce the rivalry by spending time alone with each child. Spend this time doing something you both enjoy or just talking and listening. After your child with hemophilia gets factor, you may want to do something with the other children. They may be feeling a little neglected.

Try not to have favorites among your children. You do not have to discipline your child with a bleeding disorder differently from their siblings. All children need consistently enforced limits. Try not to burden the other children with responsibilities they are not ready to handle. Some siblings are not mature enough to care for another child or assist with treatments.

If members of your family are having trouble talking with each other and relationships seem strained, the social worker at your HTC may be able to help. Sometimes it takes someone outside the family to help sort out the problems.

Guidelines for parenting brothers and sisters of children with bleeding disorders

  • Teach siblings about your family’s bleeding disorder.
  • For sisters of boys with hemophilia, explain being a carrier and carrier testing to them before they become teenagers.
  • Encourage unaffected siblings to talk with you about the bleeding disorder.  Let them express their feelings and fears.
  • Include brothers and sisters in the general care of the child with a bleeding disorder.  Do not make them feel responsible if the child with a bleeding disorder bruises or bleeds.
  • Apply the same rules and discipline methods to all your children.
  • Spend time alone with each child.
  • Allow sisters and brothers a chance to talk to another trusted adult about the bleeding disorder.  The social worker at the HTC is trained to help them adjust.