the encouragement project: how can I help parents of a seriously ill child?

Hi friends, and welcome to the fourth (!) week already of the Encouragement Project. (If you’re new, go here to read what this series is all about.)

Ten years ago yesterday, I left my 6 week old baby on a table as he slowly drifted into sleep in order for a doctor to perform a liver biopsy on him. Ten years ago today, we got the results from that biopsy and they were NOT what we wanted. But God also gave us a sign that let us know that even though our boy was sick, he was still sovereign and still cared about us. You can click here to read that whole story– it’s one of my favorites.

how can i help parents of really sick kids?

People often wonder how to help parents of a seriously ill child. I thought it would be fitting today to write a post about practical ways to do just that. Most of us know somebody who has a child that requires constant medical attention, and from my short bout with it, I know it is exhausting. So I came up with a few ideas to help out those parents.

Here’s how to help parents of a seriously ill child:

1. Food.

This is so very, very helpful. When our son came home from the NICU at ten days old, we had constant meals for at least two weeks. We were traveling back and forth 3 1/2 hours once a week to see his liver specialist, and to his regular pediatrician and lab draws at a hospital twice a week. So we had doctors’ appointments three times a week. Not exactly how I imagined spending the first few weeks with my brand new babe- but those meals helped so much! When we came in exhausted from a long day, at least we didn’t have to worry about dinner! {or spend even more money eating out.}

    • a few hints: check with the family for potential allergens
    • make the meal in a throw-away container so they don’t have to worry about getting dishes back to you
    • make the meal something that can be frozen
    • if the child is in the hospital, gift cards are especially helpful

      2.  Time.  

Often, parents of ill children can be sleep deprived. {honestly, parents of healthy children can be as well!} It would be really helpful if you could visit during the day and let mom or dad get a few hours nap. You might could even sneak in a bit of cleaning while you’re there.  :)

If the child is unable to be left without his/hers parent’s care, you can still visit! I know from our experience that with a child on IV meds, you don’t get out and about a whole lot. So going to visit mom or dad at their home- just to give them some adult conversation- can be so life-giving!

       3. Finances.

You may have a lot to give. But brainstorm ideas that you can do.

  • Offer to pay a co-pay for a doctor’s visit. This may only be $25 for you, but can mean a difference in the family’s weekly budget, where probably a great deal of their money goes to medical needs.
  • Even a roll of quarters for the vending machine while in the hospital is super-helpful.
  • Offer to pick up their groceries for the week while you do your own shopping

We had so many people give selflessly during our time Landon was sick. I remember my uncle walking up and handing us $1000 in cash from an anonymous donor. Even though it didn’t make our problems go away, just the fact that we could keep current with our medical bills was huge!

If you can’t think of anyone immediately who has an ill child, think to the periphery of your life. It doesn’t have to be your BFF, but maybe someone who needs a BFF. A family your child played baseball with? Someone who is a member at your church but unable to attend because of their child? I assure you that the blessing of being an encouragement will far outweigh any costs.

If you’ve had a seriously ill kid, I’d love to hear other ways to help in the comments! You can also check out my ebook here, in which I explore other ways to help!


My son during his yearly abdominal ultrasound.
About Kelli Hays

Kelli Hays is a wife, mother, writer, and friend. She has been blogging since 2008 and loves sharing inspiration for the everyday woman!